On the surface, the complaint by the UN staff on landlords ripping them off would probably appear like mere blather by a pampered lot. The gist of the plaint is that landlords are failing to remit the two-month deposit demanded when renting a house, as required by the law and the legal contract entered into by the parties at the end of the tenancy.
The staff have written to the government seeking a resolution to the problem. Although this is a private dispute, it goes without saying that landlords have no right to fleece their tenants, local or foreign, and the principle on which the idea of deposit is based ought to be respected.
However, landlords have taken advantage of their position to load costs on tenants, thereby justifying their decision not to refund rent deposit. And for the most part, given the informal nature of the tenancy system, they often get away with it.
Once a tenant vacates a house, crooked landlords will claim they have renovated the damaged house to justify withholding the cash, without providing sufficient or compelling evidence in terms of receipting for the services procured or a clear demonstration of the work done.
While there are laws governing the situation, the fact that well-heeled tenants like the UN staff would find it difficult to get justice is a pointer that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
It would appear that the law is not working for the tenants. And this is because of the informal nature of the sector; that is why it needs to be changed.
The best option here is to make documentation mandatory — for tax and other legal purposes. Whenever a landlord fails to refund the cash, they are robbing the taxman as well as the taxpayer.
If they are forced to file full details and get taxed and punished for the non-refund, they would be less incentivised to steal. Documentation would also serve the purpose of detailing the tenants that would come in handy in case of security breaches linked to the foreigners.
The necessary body should address issues raised by the UN staff and also issue guidelines on future engagements.
Kenyan Business Feed is the top Kenyan Business Blog. We share news from Kenya and across the region. To contact us with any alert, please email us to [email protected]