Thinking of becoming a landlord or are you one already renting out a property? Here, landlord rights and responsibilities can be a bit of a minefield. In the long run, instructing a letting agent will save you a lot of problems but if things go wrong with the property it is always the landlord and not the letting agent that will be held responsible. This is because the principle (landlord) agent (letting agent) relationship applies. So, below are top 5 things you should know when renting out a property with a letting agent in Kenya:
1. Get a registered letting Agent: Make sure that any letting agent is with the Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB) which regulates their conduct and incase of anything hold them accountable for their unprofessional actions. This gives prospective tenants the confidence to know they are dealing with a legit agent hence easy to get tenants for any vacancy within your building. This is more so when dealing with commercial buildings with shop and office spaces.
2. Keep your property safe: Make sure that the tenancy and your property complies with the various laws. For example, does the property comply with fire safety guidelines? Does the stairs, lift and the entire building comply with ventilation guidelines required under building code? Is your building connected with sewerage system and do you have approved plans? What about NEMA licenses among other requirements.
3. Make sure your tenant’s have a written lease or rental agreement: Providing a written contract or rental agreement is an important part of organizing a successful tenancy. If you do not use a rental agreement now, and you haven't had a problem, you are leading a charmed life. The only thing more important to pleasant and simple management than a well-crafted, air-tight, and up-to-date rental agreement is proper tenant selection. Protect yourself.
4. Be Aware of letting agent fees to tenants which might be illegal: Any fees apart from rent, and a deposit of no more than three months rent (depending with the estate and zoning) are often illegal. This includes any pre-tenancy administration, service charges or non-refundable ‘holding deposits’ or ‘holding fees’. Tenants can reclaim these fees in the small claims court and worse, it can make prospective tenants shun away your property - make sure that any letting agent you use doesn’t charge your tenants illegal fees
5. If your letting agent goes bust you can still be liable: Has your letting agency gone bust or missing taking your tenant’s deposit, or any other money, with them? Then it’s your legal responsibility to pay the deposit back to your tenant – even if you didn’t see any of the money.
By following these top 5 simple rules and by doing a little homework, you can make sure that renting out your property is as stress-free as possible, and that you avoid any nasty surprises along the way.