City land owners at risk owing to unpaid rates

County Chief Officer for Revenue and Administration, Wilson Gakuya. [Samson Wire]

Thousands of land and property owners in Nairobi risk losing their properties for defaulting annual land rates to the county government.

And to reach out the defaulters, the devolved unit is publishing their names amid a one-month waiver on penalties and unpaid taxes land parcels and other developments.

Despite close to 250,000 land owners being listed by the county only 20 per cent have paid their land rates. County Chief Officer for Revenue Administration Wilson Gakuya said failure to meet the target has put a huge financial constraint on the county government.

“If land owners were to comply, the county would generate over Sh30 billion annually but because of defaulting, we normally give ourselves a target of Sh7 billion from those willing to pay the land rates out of the waiver,” explained Gakuya.

During the 2023/2024 financial year, the county set a target of Sh7 billion but so far, the collections are slightly over Sh3 billion as the year comes to an end next month. “This is below target and a big concern to the county and this is why we have taken this action (publishing) to create awareness and tell them to take advantage and meet their dues,” said Gakuya.

He said it is impossible to deliver services to city residents when revenue targets are not met. “When we do a projection of Sh7 billion and there is a deficit of Sh4 billion, this means there is a service that will not be delivered,” he said.

The county has opened the waiver period running from May 20 to June 20, 2024. At end of the waiver period, enforcement action including clamping of developed properties will be taken. There is a law that allows the sale of such properties after the lapse of the waiver.

“We can also advise clients or tenants to pay their rent to the county government other than the landlords until the county recover its dues,” said Gakuya.

He said some land and property owners fail to pay the rates because those properties are disputed in court thus making it hard for the county to trace actual owners.

“Some clients are just ignorant of the law and don’t know they are supposed to be paying on an annual basis and for others; the county must go for them to comply,” said the revenue chief.

He added: “Others bought the lands and paid during the period of transfers and since then, there have never been any other engagement with the county and they don’t see any other need of coming to pay.”

Despite the challenges, Gakuya said unlike previous years, this year’s land rates performance has gone up by about twenty per cent.

The county is banking on parking spaces with a target of Sh3 billion during this financial year, which has so far realised Sh1.8 billion.

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