Which do I choose- a house managed by the landlord or an agent?

In Kenya, property management can be done by either an individual landlord or licensed property management firms and agencies recognized under the Estate Agents Act. It is however common to find majority of the apartments and houses being managed by agents other than the landlord themselves. This is so because of the dynamic nature of estate management where an individual landlord chooses only to receive the rent amount from the agent and on the other hand tasks the agents in dealing with tenants and other issues about the apartments at a fee.

Strictly speaking, there exist other conventional forms of arrangement that deviates from the two divides mentioned above and this includes the situations where a landlord chooses to employ a caretaker who will be responsible of ensuring that the rent is paid on time and oversee minor and major repairs on behalf of the landlord. This mode has been quoted by the i-tenant as most common and preferred by landlords.

When choosing between these two choices it’s imperative to consider factors such as new or old house, efficiency of the landlord or management firm, on site manager or caretaker and even the mode of rent payment. As a tenant your major concern should be getting your issues and problems like repairs addressed on time with efficiency. You should also consider reasonable rent increment, prompt reimbursement of your security deposit, privacy and observation of your rights as a tenant.

For those considering choosing a house that is managed by an individual landlord it is important to note that an individual landlord managing a big estate by himself may not be available on time when you need him. Some problems and emergencies tenants face requires swift actions and therefore, a very busy landlord may not be there for you when you need them at midnight. This notwithstanding, where a landlord lives nearby the apartments he is most likely going to be more efficient and available on time when needed.

On the other hand, professionally managed agencies are always efficient on their work although they may be strict on rules and other requirements. This makes them less preferred by tenants more so when it comes to paying rent on time requiring tenants to pay their rent through a specific mode of payment such as banking the rent and issuing them with the bank slip. Considering the lack of enthusiasm by many tenants in paying rent on time, this strictness becomes a ground of conflict between tenants and the agent leading to eviction and tenancy termination as well as distress for rent to say the least.

In deciding on who among them is the best, it is prudent that you check first with the current tenants of the apartment and get to know more about their interaction with the landlord or agent, how fast are they in making repairs, privacy intrusion or what are the do’s and don’t’s while living there. This will help you make the decision on whether you expect to have problems with the landlord or agent and anticipate future occurrences.

Finally, you may consider inquiring with the i-tenant and their legal Aid office for more information on whether they have had issues and complains from the prospective landlord or agent and if so which kind of complains were reported and what was the outcome. They will also advice you on other honest agents or landlords that you can engage with and cause you no trouble.

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