For far too long, tenants have found themselves in sticky situations with their landlords when solving disputes, dealing with tenant evictions, who does the repairs and rent increases and defaults.
The new proposed Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 seeks to bring harmony between landlords and tenants by setting rules that protect both parties.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect.
During the pandemic, tenant evictions have grown from tenants who are unable to raise the required rent money. The bill seeks to stop landlords from evicting tenants without the authority of the Tribunal.
A landlord who evicts a tenant or subjects them to any annoyance with the hopes of compelling them to pay or vacate the premises commits an offence and is liable to jail term of six months or a fine not exceeding two months’ rent of the premise.
It continues to state that no landlord can seize the tenant’s property if they are unable to pay rent.
Additionally, a landlord can terminate a tenancy without going through the Tribunal if:
- The landlord has given notice of not less than twelve months in case of a residential premise
- A tenant sublets the premise without prior written consent from the landlord
- A tenant defaults on paying rent for 3 consecutive months
- The tenancy expires
Landlords will not be permitted to deprive the tenant of services such as water and electricity if they default on rent.
Landlords want to see their real estate investments yield returns while still protecting the tenant’s rights.
Landlords can increase rent once a year for residential property and once in two years for commercial property. This is only possible if they give the tenant 90-day written notice stating that they plan on increasing rent and the amount. If the landlord doesn’t give notice, the increment will be deemed null and void.
Tenants who don’t oppose the notice for rent increments within thirty days of receiving the notice show that they are consenting to the rent increment. Landlords who put false information in the notice are liable to a Kshs 20,000 fine.
Conversely, landlords can decrease rent if there is a decrease in the services offered.
Many tenants have found themselves in trouble when a problem arises because they didn’t have records of their tenancy. For instance, if you pay the landlord rent using cash and they don’t keep any records showing that you paid.
A landlord or agent will keep rent records of the premise and share a copy with the tenant.
The rent records will contain:
- A record of all the rent payments
- The rent payable
- Particulars of the rented premise
- Details of the parties in the tenancy
If a landlord fails to keep records, they could pay a fine not exceeding one month’s rent of the premise.
Terms and Conditions
As a tenant, it is your right to live in a habitable and safe space. You are entitled to a place that is both quiet and enjoyable.
Therefore, landlords will not be able to use the land/premise next to the residential property to put up a business that would mess with the peace of the residents.
They will be responsible for repairs electrical wirings, roofs, walls and drains while the tenant is in charge of making repairs internally and any decorations if need be.
The bill does not only favour the tenants. Landlords too will benefit from it. If they want to take back ownership of the property, they can terminate the tenancy and:
- Possess the premise for occupancy by themselves, child, spouse or parent
- Demolish the property
- Convert the property’s usage
- Make repairs and renovations
Additionally, if an employee is given housing by the company they work for but end up losing the job, a landlord can end the housing contract. If a tenant carries out illegal business on the premise or willfully damages the property, a landlord will still be able to end the contract.
Lastly, the Tribunal shall handle disputes which arise between the landlords and tenants within 3 months from the date it is reported.
As a landlord, state your terms and conditions in the tenant agreement and ensure that your tenants sign it once they move into your property. This way, you protect yourself legally if any disputes arise.
The proposed Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 aims to bring harmony between landlords and tenants. Landlords want to earn an income from their investment and tenants want to live in a habitable place with their rights protected.