What Rights Do You Have as a Tenant in Kenya?
1. Is a landlord allowed to withhold deposit after I move out?
People pay a certain amount of deposit when they move into a new place. And when the time to move outreaches, a landlord is required to refund your rent deposit within a 30 day period after the end of your lease agreement. If you move before the agreement ends, a landlord can wait until your lease expires for them to give you back your deposit.
There are circumstances in which you will not get the full amount back. For instance, if you owe the landlord rent, if there is damage to the property then you will not get back the full amount. Some landlords will not return any amount of your rent. Find out the reason behind it and speak to your landlord amicably for a refund.
2. When is a landlord allowed to increase the rent? And should they give notice?
Unless it is explicitly stated in the tenancy agreement, a landlord should not increase the rent of your house without prior notice. Usually, rent increments happen when renewing your lease agreement or when you are moving into a new place. The landlord should communicate the rent increase in a formal letter.
Before increasing the rent, a landlord is required to give you a 3 months’ written notice to make you aware of the changes. Some landlords will give a reason as to why they plan on increasing the rent while others won’t. Most times, the rent will go up after a landlord makes major changes and repairs to the property or if the inflation rates in Kenya change so they need to keep up with the change in property prices in the market.
3. When is a landlord allowed to evict me and what is the notice period?
Some landlords try to evict a tenant who constantly complains about certain issues like noisy neighbours, lack of water and even poor garbage disposal. It is your right to live in a habitable environment and a landlord who evicts you for filing a complaint is doing so illegally.
Having peaceful interactions with your landlord is not farfetched. If you are not comfortable with a certain aspect of your living space, you should raise the complaint with your landlord who should look into the matter. It is your right to live in a place you feel comfortable and peaceful and a place you don’t dread going to. Following the rules stipulated in the tenancy agreement will not give the landlord a reason to evict you from your house.
4. Am I responsible for the repairs in the house?
As a tenant, it is not your right or duty to make major repairs in the house. If there is something broken and needs fixing, it is best to leave the repair work to your landlord. When you make changes to the property, the landlord can use this as an excuse to not refund your rent deposit because they will insist that you damaged the property.
You can do small repairs like fixing the light bulb. If it is something big, the best way to go about this is to write a formal complaint to your landlord. Putting things in writing is a good way to protect yourself if it ever becomes a court case.
5. What happens if I lose my keys?
The landlord should have an extra set of keys for you in case yours get lost. In the event that there is no extra set, you will have to pay a locksmith to change the locks and any damages that might happen. Before making such changes, find out from your landlord if you are allowed to do that and if it will affect your rent deposit when it’s time to move.
6. Is a landlord allowed to enter your home whenever they want?
Before a landlord gains access to your house, they must give you 24 hours’ notice in writing stating why they need access. Landlords have a right to do inspections and make repairs but they can’t enter your house without giving you notice or when you are not present.
7. Can a landlord charge me for wear and tear?
When you move out, a landlord can decide to keep part of your rent deposit to make repairs. However, they should not use your money to make any fixes on damages that were already there before you moved in, by doing costly repairs or the normal wear and tear such as repainting the house.
8. Can I have friends and family stay over?
It is your right to host whomever you want to in your house but keep in mind that you are responsible for the behaviour of your guests. If they do disturb the peace of other neighbours, this could leave you in a tricky situation with your landlord because you will be in breach of your lease agreement.
Knowing your rights as a tenant helps you to know what you owe a landlord and what they owe you in return. This will help you avoid going through regrettable situations because of your landlord that could have been avoided.
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