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Understanding The Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 :8 Key Areas for Focus

Understanding The Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 :8 Key Areas for Focus

The Clerk of the Senate, Charles Nyagenye,
is calling on interested members of the public to submit any representation
that they may have on The
Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021
by way of written memoranda before Friday,
January 14, 2022. The Bill seeks to consolidate the laws relating to the renting
of business and residential premises; regulate the relationship between
landlords and tenants; establish tribunals while also providing for
adjudication of disputes to promote stability of the rental sector.

 Some key provisions in the bill include:

Establishment of a Five-Member Tribunal

It is always good to have a neutral arbiter in case of
disputes.
The Bill proposes the creation of a five-full-time
member tribunal that will be headed by an individual qualified to be appointed
High Court judge and a deputy chairman who has served as an advocate of the
High Court.
The other members will be experts in valuation of
premises.

This
tribunal will give rulings that are binding for both landlords and tenants.
The bill proposes and fix the date from which the rent is payable on
the application of any person interested

Determination of rent payable:

The bill allows for the rent payable to be
determined by agreement of the parties. If during the rent period, the parties
cannot agree, then a tribunal shall determine fair rent based on the market
rent of the premises.

Permitted rent increases

Increase in rent prices remains a bone of
contention as Kenyans grapple with evictions. The bill seeks to protect Tenants
from the arbitrary increase of rent by landlords. If the bill passes as it is.

·
Landlords shall not increase rent payable unless they
give the tenant at least 90 days written notice of the intention to do so
indicating the amount of new rent. A tenant then needs to oppose the increase
within 30 days and if not, they are deemed to have accepted the increase.

·
Landlords will be restricted to increasing the rent at
most once every year for residential premises and once every two years for
business premises.

·
Landlords will need to decrease rent in case they
cease to provide any prescribed service proportional to the decrease of
services.

·
Increasesses in rent will have to reflect increase in services provided, undertaken capital expenditure or economic trends.

Maintaining Tenancy Records

A landlord or his agent is required to
keep records including records of records of all payments made and shall then
provide the tenant with a copy. If a landlord does not do this, they commit an
offence and can be fined one month rent of the premises.

Termination of Tenancy

The landlord is entitled to terminate a
tenancy without reference to the Tribunal if the tenant has defaulted in the
payment of rent for THREE consecutive months.

However, no landlord shall, without legal
process, seize a tenant’s property for default in the payment of rent or for
the breach of any other obligation of the tenant,” the Bill says.

Top Tips for Protecting Yourself as a Kenyan Landlord

Deprivation of services

The landlord has been prevented from
withholding utilities like water, electricity, security, garbage collection to
force tenants to pay rent except with prior consent of the Tribunal. If a
landlord or any other person contravenes this they can be fined up to ten
thousand shillings, six months in prison or both.

Eviction of a Tenant

The bill if passed thus
prevents
landlords or their agents from the
usual practice of putting additional padlocks
or doing anything to stop defaulting tenants
from accessing their homes.
The bill also prevents landlords or their agents from the usual practice of shutting off utilities to force tenants to force them to leave.

Any landlord who evicts a tenant without
the authority of a tribunal, or willfully subjects the tenant to an annoyance
to compel the tenant to vacate commits an offence and can be fined two months’
rent, imprisoned up to two months or both.

Return of Deposit Provided.

When a tenant is leaving at
the end of a tenancy, deposit provided is usually refundable. This deposit has
always been a source of disputes. The bill proposes that a
landlord shall provide a tenant with receipts for
reasonable expenses incurred for repairing premises that the landlord proposes
to deduct from any security deposit held
.

The committee has proposed that departing tenants must be issued with
receipts of repairs done before any amount can be deducted from their deposits.   

The
bill has
various provisions that are implied in tenancy agreements. This means if
landlords and tenants do not agree differently in writing, then those terms are
deemed as applicable.

As requested, please read and submit your
views before the bill becomes law.

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