What does the law say on leases and rental agreements involving a minor in Kenya?

Updated: Apr 14

Just imagine for a second that as a landlord, one day a man with great physique approaches you and seeks to rent one of your vacant houses within the building and when you explain about the rent and terms of the rental agreement he agrees. But just when he is about to sign or immediately after signing the rental agreement you realize that he is a minor 16 years old? what would you do?

Like any other contract in Kenya, the lease should be entered into by adult persons with legal capacity to engage in such agreement. This is to say that both the landlord and the tenant must be of sound mind at the time of signing the agreement and if any of them lacks the legal capacity, then the agreement is voidable and any party seeking protection can avoid the contractual liability as stipulated under the Law of Contract Act (Chapter 23).

The general rule regarding entering contractual agreements with minors or a person of unsound mind is that such a contract is voidable by the disadvantaged party (the minor or the person of unsound mind).

Someone might ask, can a minor who is financially stable enter into a rental or lease agreement? Section 2 of the Age of Majority Act as well as Article 260 of the Constitution of Kenya, a minor or a child is defined as an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.

In addition, section 4(2) of the Sale of Goods Act terms the contract by a minor for lodging services as a contract of “other necessaries” under which the minor is liable to pay the agreed price but what the court will consider reasonable.

This rule has been established to protect minors and other disadvantaged persons who may not fully grasp the consequences of certain contracts. In Kenya however, practical approach to minors accommodation is done in a way that a guardian commits himself and signs the rental or lease agreement on behalf of the minors and in case of anything, he is held liable instead of the minors.

The guardian assumes all the responsibilities and obligations which includes paying rent same as he would have been bound by any lease or rental agreement as an individual tenant.

A child however by dint of section 27 of the Land Act, shall be capable of holding title to land through a trustee and such child shall be in the same position as an adult with regard to the child’s liability and obligations to the land.



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