Kenya: Landlords Now Want Direct Contact With Tenants' Employers Over Rent Arrears

Pandemic restrictions have emptied Nairobi streets of the usual traffic (file photo).

The Landlords and Tenants Association of Kenya (LATAK) now want permission to contact tenant's employer directly over the raising cases of arrears occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic.

Secretary-General of LATAK Ben Liayi on Monday said that they want to be allowed access to their tenants' employers as a way to protect the interests of both parties as run-ins over rent across the country continue to pile up.

RENT PAYMENT

This, he said, will allow landlords to verify a house occupant's inability to pay rent amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has rendered many Kenyans jobless while others contend with unpaid leave or massive pay cuts.

He said that they want to verify a tenant's ability to pay rent saying that many house occupants are increasingly "lying about their ability to pay rent" to avoid responsibility.

"Most landlords know when a tenant is telling the truth or when they are lying. It helps to have a good relationship," he said.

At the same time, the association said that due to the coronavirus crisis in the country there have been increased cases of tenancy conflict. The association appealed to all affected parties to report such cases to them.

"We are ready for representing you in court or offering mediation platforms to make sure we resolve conflicts that you may be in, like evictions, padlocking, disconnection of electricity and water, rent delays and harassment," it said.

RENT REDUCTION

In April, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on property owners to share the coronavirus-driven economic burden by reducing rental charges or agreeing to deferred payments.

Most landlords have since snubbed State calls to reduce rent for workers hit by the effects of Coronavirus, which saw a third of households fail to pay their April rent, according to the Treasury.

A national survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) last month on the impact of the disease on households revealed that only 8.5 per cent of landlords had offered rent reliefs in April.

The survey, conducted between May 7 and 9, also revealed that 30.5 per cent of the tenants interviewed were unable to pay rent in April.

About 21.5 per cent of those who defaulted said they had always met their obligations on time, highlighting the impact of restrictions to curb the global Covid-19 pandemic on workers' incomes.

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