As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the nation with devastating economic results, low and middle-income tenants have found themselves living in their premises at the mercy of their landlords

. Stakeholders in the housing sector have implored the government to put in place stringent measures to insulate tenants and landlords from the negative economic effects of Covid-19. According to a survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on the impact of Covid-19, 21.5 percent of Kenyans were unable to pay their rent in April, while 30 percent could not pay their rent on time in May 2020.

Speaking on KTN News at a virtual panel discussion about the rent crisis, Kara CEO Mr. Henry Ochieng stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on both the tenants and landlords. “We are looking at a situation where the tenants and landlords are in a dilemma as the failure by tenants to pay rent negatively affects the landlord and both parties end up not being able to meet their financial obligations. There is need to balance protection of landlords from revenue loss and tenants from being rendered homeless” he said. Other panelists included Mr. Ephraim Murigo (Urban Tenants and Landlords Association, and Ms. Sakina Hassanali (Hass Consult) both of whom also called for urgent measures to be put in place to address the rent crisis.

A Bill proposed by Nairobi Senator Hon. Johnson Sakaja seeks to protect tenants unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The Pandemic Response and Management Bill 2020 provides that if tenants experience challenges in rent payment, they can enter into an agreement with their landlords on how they shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic. “Upon receipt of a notice, the contracting parties shall enter into an agreement on how the tenant shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic,” it states. The Bill has gone through the 1st and 2nd reading at the Senate.