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Talks on easing rent for distressed tenants underway – Govt.

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 27 – Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina says consultations with different business stakeholders are ongoing to ensure distressed tenants are cushioned during this coronavirus pandemic period.

Speaking during a virtual meeting with the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on coronavirus on Monday, Maina said the government was working on modalities to ensure tenants and landlords agree on payment terms during this period.

“We have engaged with different stakeholders to ensure that they get to give each other moratoriums on some rent payments especially for those who are unable to pay,” she said.

While however, conceding that it was challenging for the government to compel landlords to waive rent, she urged them to act humanely and understand the situation faced by their tenants whom a majority have challenges in getting a source of income.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last week during a live radio address from State House, Nairobi stated that the state cannot force landlords to reduce rent or waive it but instead pleaded with landlords to enter into some form of an agreement with their tenants who are unable to foot their rent.

“We need to show mercy as humans during this period and understanding,” he said.

According to the Pandemic Response and Management Bill 2020 sponsored by Sakaja, in the event where tenants experience challenges in the remittance of their monthly rent they can enter into an agreement with their landlords on how they shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic.

The tenant shall give a notice in writing to the landlord or contracting party that they are unable to meet their obligations because 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.

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During the session, CS Maina also told the committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja that she had reached out to utility providers in the country to consider waivers in lowering the billing rates except for what is owed to them.

“Kenya Power and Water Boards providers should devise flexible payment terms for electricity bills and other utility providers,” she said.

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