If the proposed Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya passes and is signed into law, then most tenants might shelve their earlier plans of owning their own houses, and instead, opt to continue living as tenants.
This is because, not only does the proposed law take away massive powers from landlords who have always operated with unchecked authority, but also empowers tenants, and give them much more free space and liberal environment within which to operate, and in some cases, even take part in decision making.
Among the proposed changes is that rent increments will have to reflect an average of that year’s inflation rate. Also owners of residential structures will be allowed to raise rent only once a year, and twice for those of commercial buildings.
The Bill, sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya seeks to control rent and stop landlords from ejecting tenants for defaulting on rent.
According to the draft bill, landlords could face a six-month jail term or a fine of up to two months of rent for the property in question.
“A landlord and any agent or servant of a landlord who evicts a tenant without the authority of a tribunal or willfully subjects a tenant to any annoyance with the intention of inducing or compelling the tenant to vacate the premises or to pay, directly or indirectly a higher rent for the premises commits an offence,” the bill reads.
Landlords are also required to give a three-month notice on the intention to increase rent.
They could also be fined if they deny basic amenities to tenants e.g. water, garbage collection, and electricity, in a bid to force tenants to pay up their rent arrears.
“No landlord shall, without legal process, seize a tenant’s property for default in the payment of rent or for the breach of any other obligation of the tenant,” the draft law says.
While a number of landlords have raised concerns on the law, terming it as just another way of the government using populism to effect price controls in what should be a liberal market, tenants have welcomed the move, describing it as not just a welcome move, but also one that’s long overdue.