Landlords could soon have the volition to increase rent as they wish should a petition filed at the High Court on Thursday, 15 October goes through.
A landlord, Ukamba Agricultural Institute, filed a suit seeking the annulment of the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Rent Restriction Act, which prevent landlords from increasing rents before an approval by the rent tribunal.
The institute’s lawyer, Philip Nzamba Kitonga, argued that his client loses millions of shillings in rent as a result of the two laws that have prohibited it from raising rent for its business premises, residential houses, and leased land they own over the country.
A statement showing the Landlord-Tenant Law.
He wants the rent tribunal interdicted from overseeing cases that involve rent disputes.
Kitonga termed the laws that inhibit landlords from increasing rent however they want as outdated precolonial legislation based on the presupposition that tenants need to be protected from greedy landlords.
He suggested the laws be scrapped from the current constitution as they infringe a person’s right to own and manage their property the way they want.
The Senior Counsel proposed the disbandment of the Business Premises Rent Tribunal and the Rent Restriction Tribunal, saying they are obstacles in landlords’ wish to raise rent and lack judicial authority to preside over rent dispute cases.
He also said the two tribunals have forced landlords to go through lengthy and burdensome proceedings before getting the permission to increase rent.
Kitonga argued that despite landlords owning their properties, the laws have made it hard for them to revoke tenancy agreements without notice.
“A landlord and a tenant should be allowed to enter into a contract on a willing buyer, willing seller basis. The rent laws are archaic as they violate social, economic, and consumer rights of Kenyans who have invested in rental buildings and want to charge appropriate rent,” he told The Standard.
In an affidavit, the institute’s chairman Robert Mutiso said the rigid laws have impeded their efforts to increase rents therefore they cannot reap good returns from their investments.
“The Constitution created the Environment and Land Court which should be the court dealing with any dispute relating to land usage, including rent. The tribunals are illegally presiding over matters of rent dispute and should be declared unconstitutional,” said Mutiso.
He suggested that the landlord and the tenant should be granted equal rights, and landlords be allowed to charge any amount they want.
Earlier in the year, the government was under pressure to freeze rent payment at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. President Uhuru Kenyatta however, retorted that it was out of the government’s hands and that he could not give directions to entrepreneurs on how to run their private businesses.
Pipeline Estate in Embakasi Nairobi.