Housing discrimination: Discriminating a tenant based on disability in Kenya

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Tenants may sometimes be discriminated against on the grounds of disability by either landlords or their appointed letting agents consciously or unconsciously- whichever the case -IT IS ILLEGAL! The landlords are not allowed to ask you whether you have any disability or chronic illness.

The law is crystal clear that no one should discriminate against people with physical and mental disability that substantially their movement or activities. For example, no landlord or his agent should discriminate you on the ground of impaired hearing and sight, HIV/AIDS positive or other chronic diseases.

Under the Article 54 of the constitution of Kenya, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Coordination Act as read together with section 7 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, rights of people with disabilities and persons with HIV/AIDS are recognized with the Act providing for equalization of opportunities and the elimination of discrimination to secure equality.

Based on these provisions the landlord or his agent cannot dictate to any tenant where and how you will live on the property where he would not have done so if you were not disabled or with HIV/AIDS.

This is to mean that, if there are three vacant units on his apartment let’s say one on the ground floor, second on the first floor and another on fourth floor, he should show the tenant all the three and let you decide which one you would prefer unless you have unconditionally requested him to show the one on the ground floor. These form of discrimination cannot be included in a lease or a rental agreement.

It is worthy to note that section 23 of the Persons with Disability Act requires all stake holders to make possible accessibility to all buildings by persons with disability. The same section reads in part that “every building should be made accessible to person with disabilities” giving the owners of these buildings (landlords included) a grace period of five years after the enactment of the Act a task that is supposed to be overseen by the Architectural Association of Kenya together with County physical planner’s department under the lands ministry.

Other forms of discrimination in tenancy include based on refusing landlord's sexual advances, religious faith or belief and even against families with young children.

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