Kenyans Expose 5 Fees Landlords Use to Swindle Tenants

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    Rental houses in Donholm, Nairobi
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  • Landlord-tenant squabbles are debates that may never be exhausted, whether through constitutional forums, agencies and consensus between parties as there are a lot of grey areas involved.

    Speaking with Kenyans.co.ke on Thursday, August 13, a number of tenants in various Nairobi estates raised concerns on five fees landlords use to swindle them, lamenting that at times the charges feel outrageous.

    Garbage Fees

    A tenant in Ruaka stated that he opted to purchase his own nylon trash bags after suspecting that the landlord was making exorbitant profits from waste collection.

    "When I moved in, I was asked to pay Ksh 200 for garbage but I noticed that no waste was being collected and a tenant had to personally dispose of his/her waste. This led to an uproar in our Whatsapp group after other tenants ganged up to demand their refunds from January to August 2020," he lamented adding that it costs Ksh60 for a pack of 50 nylon that can be used over for a year.

    The tenant, who chose to remain anonymous, noted that another trick landlords were using was asking new tenants to pay higher prices for garbage collection as compared to prices offered to older tenants.

    Rent deposits

    Investigations by Kenyans.co.ke on July 26 revealed that many tenants in major cities and towns had suffered at the hands of rogue caretakers and landlords.

    While most landlords demand payment of one or two months rent as a deposit once a new tenant moves in, many tenants end up never being refunded rent deposits at all or are given meagre amounts despite prior agreements.

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    File image of garbage in a Nairobi estate
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    A common complaint was that home improvements made by tenants were cited in slashing huge amounts from expected refunds. Another was that many caretakers and landlords were simply nowhere to be found when tenants sought the refunds leading many to give up.

    Tokens

    This aspect many may argue is quite impossible, with Kenya Power mandated with electricity connection. However, landlords still have access to meter boxes and one tenant in Uthiru lamented that she found out she was cost-sharing her tokens with other tenants favoured by the landlord or caretaker.

    "I found out that he had switched wires from another meter to mine. We literally were sharing our units. I grew uncomfortable when I noticed my tokens were diminishing at a faster rate yet I didn't have equipment which consumes a lot of power," she disclosed.

    A tenant along Thika Road added that his landlord was generous enough to cost-share his units with him for one month after he moved in and found out his token box had issues. At that point is when he realised units can be cost-shared.  

    Water levies

    "My sister at one point was asked to pay Ksh 1,800 for water yet she had no leakages and had not spent two weeks in the house that month. She raised the issue with the landlord who reprimanded the caretaker," Sarah (not her real name) a tenant in Kabiria, Nairobi disclosed. 

    A caretaker in Uthiru who asked to speak on anonymity stated that he has heard of meters being tampered with to allow a lot of water to be used at low cost. However, he added that this was a crime which Nairobi City Water is hawk-eyed on and can lead to penalties and sentencing.

    Nairobi Water loses approximately Ksh 1 billion annually in non-revenue water – water which cannot be accounted for according to a 2018 report. 

    Security Fees 

    In some estates, especially gated ones, tenants pay security fees as low as Ksh 200 per month. These funds are mostly used to pay security guards in the areas.

    At times, landlords are reported to pay the guards lower than the amount raised, with part of the funds being channelled into their pockets.   

    All these issues are guided by the constitution and the landlord-tenant agreements. The rights of a tenant are stipulated in the Registered Land Act, the Landlord and Tenant Act, the Distress for Rent Act, the Transfer of Property Act and the Rent Restriction Act. of tenants 

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    File image of meter models for tenants
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