Tricks Landlords Use to Increase Rent

  • An image of apartments in Embakasi Estate in Nairobi taken on October 7, 2020.
    An image of apartments in Embakasi Estate in Nairobi taken on October 7, 2020.
    Radio Damal
  • With the hard economic times, everyone looks for ways to earn more money. Landlords are not excluded from this need.

    While outrightly increasing the rent may not be easy, landlords are often forced to use tricks to increase their tenants' rent.

    Additionally, the tricks call for the landlords to use their wits to avoid any detection from their tenants.

    Essential service fee

    The commonly used trick is the introduction of essential service fees such as a security fee. As of today, many tenants especially those in Nairobi pay security fees additional to the rent that they pay.

    File image of Nairobi based security guards at a parade before embarking on daily duties

    Some of the other essential services that are introduced by landlords include garbage fees, water bills, parking fees, cleaning fees, and many more. 

    During an interview with, Arnania Ogutu, a resident of Jamhuri estate in Nairobi revealed how their landlord introduced water levies by installing meter readers in the tenants’ houses.

    Ogutu went ahead to disclose that since the introduction of the meter readers, they have been paying more money to their already high rent.

    Interestingly, some of the landlords go to arm’s length to enforce the new charges. The most common method is the use of a notice board where the names of the defaulters are written. It can be embarrassing since most of the boards are placed right at the gate. This will in turn force tenants to pay the fees.

    Fake promises

    Additionally, landlords will often make promises that they cannot keep. They will either try to convince you that the rent will actually go down. 

    For example, in the case of Ogutu, they were informed that the amount they pay for the house rent would be lowered once the water meter readers were installed in their houses.

    A file image of three water meters installed on a building
    A file image of three water meters installed on a building

    "We were convinced to accept the changes but until date, no rent has been lowered," he revealed.

    In another case, tenants in some apartments in South C, Nairobi, revealed how they were told to contribute to purchase a water pump. The tenants were promised that they would always have running tap water

    After purchasing the water pump, the tenants were informed that they are required to pay Ksh50 for the maintenance of the water pump.

    Introduction of luxury services

    Another trick in the landlords’ books is the introduction of enticing commodities. These commodities will always be captivating to the tenants. Some of the commodities include Wi-Fi, hot water heater among others.

    An offer like Wi-Fi can be hard to resist because people spend most of their time on their phones. Tenants will also be convinced to subscribe to such a service because it is cheaper compared to mobile data.

    Landlords will also add additional enticing payment options such as paying for the service daily, weekly, or on a monthly basis, which is later included in the rent.

    However, introducing the new fees mentioned above can be hard. This calls upon landlords to be more cunning when communicating these changes to their tenants.

    The first method used to communicate new levies includes delivering the messages early in the morning or late in the evening. While some may argue that the landlords do this because most people are held up at work during the day, the reality is that this works perfectly for the landlords.

    In the morning, most tenants will always be in a rush to get to work hence they will not take their time to argue over the increase in rent. Equally, most tenants are pretty tired in the evening, hence they will take the news without any discussion.

    Notably, the use of notices and caretakers is also common. More often than not, caretakers are at the receiving end for the decisions that they did not make or for things that they did not have any control over.

    In the end, all the payments made for these services will always see tenants pay more to the landlords.

    File image of Kenyan banknotes held in a hand on January 25, 2020.
    File image of Kenyan banknotes held in a hand on January 25, 2020.
    Simon Kiragu