The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: No Relief for Tenants With Pre-Paid Meters

Kenya Power's move to halt roll out of pre-paid metres in urban areas has dashed hopes of tenants anticipating to claim back deposits remitted with landlords. This means tenants moving into houses fitted with post-paid metres have no relief in their house moving budgets as they will continue paying the Sh2,500 deposits.

Kenya Power's managing director Ben Chumo said the vendor will shift focus to fitting pre-paid metres in low consumption urban and rural areas where the cost of metre reading is uneconomical. He said this has been informed by lessons from the pilot project.

"Many landlords prefer the pre-paid metres because it saves them from dealing with tenants who exit before settling bills, which also inconveniences new tenants," Chumo said on phone. The power vendor had intended to roll out pre-paid metres countrywide by 2015, with a view to cutting down the risk of default on power bills by consumers. The metres were touted to also reduce the prevalence of illegal connections.

"We are now wiser after the pilot project and we will deploy pre-paid metres to low consumption ends in urban and rural areas," Chumo said.

Landlords are usually expected to refund tenants on cessation of tenancy stints on condition that they have cleared electricity bills and that the metre boxes are intact.

There are however many cases where such agreements have not been honoured, exposing tenants to losses.

Tenants boarding houses fitted with pre-paid metre gadgets have the reprieve of not depositing the Sh2,500 required per household - a pricey burden on tenants.

Moving house in urban areas is a daunting task since landlords demand at least a month's rent in deposit besides the present month's rent, metre deposit, transportation and at times agent fees.

"In my opinion, a full roll out of pre-paid metres would have been the best way to go for Kenya Power because, if anything, it would have reduced disputes with consumers on power bills based on non-read or misread metres," said Epharaim Murigo, secretary general of the Urban Tenants Association of Kenya.

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