According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 39 percent of Kenyans live in rented houses. Out of these, only a handful are aware of their rights as tenants.
Once you have decided to settle in a certain place, you are required to pay a deposit and one month’s rent upfront as security. The Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2021 states that the deposit money is refundable, but whether in full or partial, is dependent on several factors. If there has been property damage, default on rent, or unpaid utilities such as water and electricity, the rent amount will not be paid back in full. The duration for a refund on rent deposit is not stated by the law and is therefore dependent on the tenancy agreement. In most cases, it is usually within 30 days after the end of the lease agreement.
In the case where a landlord wishes to increase rent, the law requires them to issue the tenant a letter or a notice in writing, a month prior, informing them of the upcoming change. The Landlord may or may not give a reason for the same. The tenant has a right to object to the increment, where If they choose to do so, they are required to notify the landlord within 30 days of receipt of the notice.
Under no circumstances whatsoever is a landlord allowed to evict a tenant in a way they deem fit. The law stipulates a procedure that should and must be followed should they want a tenant to vacate their premises. A landlord is required by law to first write a notice or a letter stating the reason for termination of the tenancy. The notice should state the date for termination of the tenancy and must be signed by the person issuing the notice. Upon receiving the notice, the tenant must vacate the premises by the stipulated period. If they fail to vacate, the landlord can apply to a tribunal for an order to terminate the tenancy and evict the tenant.
A tenant is entitled to a right to privacy. If a landlord wishes to come into your house, they must issue you a 24-hour prior notice regardless of what they want to do in your house. The only exception is when there is an emergency such as a fire outbreak. A tenant is also allowed to host whomever they wish to but will remain answerable for their actions.
Understanding tenant’s rights is important as it ensures a harmonious coexistence between a tenant and the landlord while shielding both parties from overstepping their jurisdiction.