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I never said tenants should stop paying rent — Sakaja

By Vincent Kejitan | April 16th 2020

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has faulted some media houses for reporting that he instructed tenants to stop paying rent due to the Coronavirus.

Speaking during an interview on Citizen TV, Sakaja stated that the Pandemic Response and Management Bill will try to cushion tenants during pandemics but that does not mean exempting them from paying rent.

The senator stated that he is looking at a scenario where the tenant and the landlord can sign an agreement where rent can be settled at the end of the pandemic.

“Where a pandemic has affected the financial capacity of a tenant to meet their obligations, the tenant shall give notice in writing to the landlord or contracting party that they are unable to meet their obligations because of the pandemic.

“Upon receipt of a notice, the contracting parties shall enter into an agreement on how the tenant shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic,” said Sakaja.

The bill also touches on labour relations and aims at ensuring both the employer and the employee are cushioned during pandemics.

“Where a pandemic adversely affects the ability of an employer to pay salaries or wages, notwithstanding the provisions of the Employment Act, an employer shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss an employee.

“An employer shall not coerce an employee to take a salary cut…where an employer is unable to meet his obligations to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall permit an employee to take leave of absence without pay for the duration of the pandemic,” reads the bill in part.

Elsewhere, the Landlords and Tenants Association (LATAK) has directed tenants not to pay rent due to the harsh economic times.

Through the association’s Secretary-General Ben Liyai, LATAK said tenants should no longer be harassed.

“LATAK directs all tenants not to pay rent until when President Uhuru Kenyatta orders businesses to resume normal operations. All the landlords must forthwith stop evictions, harassment, and disconnection of electricity and water to tenants,” said Liyai.

Online, many wondered if the association had the authority to make such a declaration since most landlord/tenant agreements are between two parties.

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