Differentiating between late rent and No rent: Advise to the Kenyan landlord

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Is your tenant paying the rent late or have they completely stopped paying? To many landlords and letting agents these two statements are just the same but on a closer look, they are very different and their difference means a whole lot of different outcome or consequences.

There’s an important difference because how you deal with the situation will vary depending on what stage you’re at! Lets understand what the two phrases mean in the real world.

First, where a tenant is late in paying the rent - Important to note is that the obligation to pay rent arises from the rental or lease agreement that the tenant and the landlord - or the appointed agent signed at the beginning of the tenancy.

It is also in that agreement that the agreed date of rent payment is indicated so for example if the agreement says the rent falls due on 5th of every month then that is by default the rent paying date. Still following through :) - right!

So when a tenant for one reason or another fails to pay the rent on 5th (using the example given above) then the tenant is late in paying rent. Please note that in some leases or rental agreement the landlords may include a date when the rent can be declared due - e.g. one week after the due date (indicating that the landlord has given their tenants a grace period of one week). This is when the landlord can say that the tenant is late in paying rent.

The consequences of late payment are really minimal in nature and if a tenant is lucky none at all. This is because the much they can get is a penalty for paying late but ONLY when the rental agreement has indicated so. The exception is during pandemics when the government can give directive and overriding orders on what they expect the landlords to do during such a time. Take the corona Pandemic for example.

On the other hand No rent at all is a different case all together. This is what in other words called "stopped paying rent". This means that the tenant has breached the terms of the rental agreement and has not paid the rent for one month or so and the landlord has made attempts to remind the tenant, and to some extent written notice or a demand letter to the same tenant.

It is this kind of "late" payment that carries more weight with regards to consequences. The consequences may include possibility of eviction and distress for rent.

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