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How to Protect Yourself From Bad Landlords & Agencies

  • On several occasions, Kenyans often complain of having rogue landlords who are often accused of unjustified rent increment, forceful evictions among others.

    Due to the growing concern of poor regulation in the real estate industry, several legislations have been put in place to regulate the relationship between tenants, landlords, and real estate agencies.

    Among the laws include the Rent Restriction Act and the Distress for Rent Act (Cap 293). Apart from being with these legislations, there are several ways Kenyans can protect themselves from bad landlords and agencies. They include;

    A block of apartments in Nairobi, Kenya.

    A block of apartments in Nairobi, Kenya.

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    1. Carry out Reviews of the Landlords or the Agencies  

    When looking for a house to rent, it is advisable to research your potential landlords and real estate agents. Through research one will be acquainted with detail about the landlord and the agents, including their history.

    A person can review the landlords and the agents by talking to tenants of the building and looking at reviews for agencies on their websites and social media platforms. Other people’s experience can inform your decision whether to rent a particular house or not.

    In an interview with Kenyans, Marriane Njeri, a real estate expert based in Nairobi,  revealed that many Kenyans fail to verify if real estate agents have been registered. 

    She stated that Kenyans can verify the registration of agents and agencies through the Estates Agents Registration Board which is a regulatory body mandated to oversee real estate agents across the 47 counties.

    2. Conduct Inspection of the House 

    Another way Kenyans can protect themselves is by inspecting the houses before moving in. During the inspections, tenants are advised to check all the features in the houses to ensure that all are functioning properly.

    From the lighting, painting to the bathroom system, it is important to ensure that all are everything is in order. In case of any faults, potential tenants should always ask the landlord to do all the required repairs before moving in.

    During the inspection, it is also important to be accompanied by the agent or the landlord so that both parties can take note of the defects in the house.

    Inside a two-bedroom apartment for sale at Zahara Apartments, Ngong Road Nairobi

    Inside a two-bedroom apartment for sale at Zahara Apartments, Ngong Road Nairobi

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    3. Take Pictures of the House and Keep Them on Record

    Before moving into a new house, you can protect yourself from exploitative landlords and agents by taking pictures of the whole house.

    During the interview, Njeri also advised that the images should always be kept in record. She noted that the pictures help tents in the event they opt to move out. On many occasions, tenants get accused of property destruction and at times are forced to pay for damages they may have not caused.

    “You can take pictures and have both parties sign it and keep it so that when you are moving you can countercheck everything is okay,” she stated. 

    4. Sign a Tenants Agreement Before Occupying the House

    Another way Kenyans can protect themselves is by signing a tenant’s agreement before occupying the house. The agreement should also be signed by both parties and filed for future references.

    It is also important for the document to cover the amount of rent and deposit. Equally, the document can entail who pays for major and minor repairs for the house. 

    Additionally, tenants are advised to seek legal opinions on their agreements from their lawyers to ensure that the agreements are in line with the laws that govern the real estate industry.

    A sample of a Rental Agreement.

    A sample of a Rental Agreement.

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    5.  Keep Records of All Communication 

    Tenants are advised to keep a record of all communication between them and their landlords and the agencies.

    Ensure that your communication with landlords, agents is always in written form. This includes having copies of minutes of tenants/landlords’ meetings and directives that are issued from time to time.

    Despite being something that is rarely done by tenants, documentation can save tenants when they are faced with disagreements with their landlords.

    6.  Always Keep Receipts of Payments 

    After making payments for the rent, tenants are advised to keep records of their payments. As required, landlords should provide receipts for payments of rent and utility bills such as water, electricity, security among others.

    In cases where tenants are not provided with receipts, they should always keep a record of the payments made through the mobile money platforms or through the banks.

    This move helps tenants to have evidence of payment in the event they are accused of defaulting on payment. Having receipts is also important because in some cases, rogue caretakers or agents fail to remit funds to the landlords and house owners especially when the payment is made in cash. 

    7. Always Seek Legal Redress In case of Differences 

    When embroiled in differences with landlords and agents, tenants are advised to seek legal redress from the police or from the Rent Tribunal which is mandated to deal with rent disputes that arise.

    Tenants can also seek legal redress in cases where the landlord has breached their contract or seek compensation in situations where they have been denied their deposits when moving out.

    Njeri further revealed that most people fail to report cases to the tribunal because they lack knowledge of the laws that exist. She, therefore, advised tenants to have an understanding of their rights as tenants.

    File image of a court gavel

    File image of a court gavel

    File

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