4 major challenges that landlords and tenants must expect during the corona-virus pandemic?

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is unfathomable but one thing we are sure of is that it has become a global threat to humanity and the way of life and the global economy as we know it. We encourage tenants to engage their landlords or agent about any concerns you may have. Although various institutions including the leading housing rights champion, there haven’t been any major changes announced yet about the rights of tenants in Kenya.

Tenants must however brace themselves for the following tenancy challenges as a result of Covid-19. They include:

1. Problems with Paying Rent: Your landlord doesn’t have to do anything to help you at this time. However, many landlords are concerned about their tenants and will try to help. You could ask the landlord to;

a) Reduce your rent for a period of time

b) Use your deposit to cover a month’s rent and allow you to build this up again when you’re back on your feet

c) Postpone rent repayments until a point in the future when you’ll be able to repay what you owe

d) Allow you to offset rent payments against work that needs done in the property.

If landlord is able to respond to any one of the above requests, the tenants make sure you have a written record of any changes agreed. This doesn’t have to be a formal signed contract. An email or message explaining the changes, how long they are in place for and any conditions attached will be fine.

2. Evictions: Even though the ministry of housing or the president hasn’t given any directives or any changes to the landlord and tenant laws around evictions yet but is working on new laws to ensure that tenants aren't evicted during this crisis. Regardless of this, the landlord must go to court to evict a tenant and the courts are not currently dealing with eviction hearings following the directive by the Chief Justice and the president of the supreme court Kenya. It is illegal for a landlord to force any tenant to leave the property without a court order. This applies even if a tenant haven’t been able to pay rent.

Your landlord or agent can't make you leave your rented home during this crisis. If you are told that you have to get out, get advice immediately.

3. Repairs: The landlord has the same responsibilities to carry out repairs as existed before this crisis. However, the landlord may have difficulties getting their usual contractor, or even materials necessary to carry out the repair in question. This means that it could take longer to get things sorted out, or thattenants are equally expected to be more flexible about when repairs happen. If there are serious problems in your property and your landlord is refusing to deal with these, the tenant should agree if its possible for them to repair at their own cost then deduct from the rent later. Tenants should ensure to explain how serious the situation is if they are reporting an emergency repair and get advice if you need help to get the problem sorted out.

4. Inspection and Viewing: The landlord or agent are only expected to visit the property for an emergency or to carry out agreed repairs. All property inspections and viewings should be cancelled in line with government directives to stay at home. Get advice if you've been told that you have to allow people into your house during the lock-down.

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