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Tenants allowed to sign agreements with landlords over rent challenges during pandemics – Gazetted Bill

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 20 – Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja’s bill that seeks to protect tenants unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic period and shielding employees from being fired has been gazetted.

Members of the Public now have 14 days to submit their views on the Pandemic Response and Management Bill 2020 that provides a wide range of mitigation measures aimed at protecting the vulnerable people in the society.

Those intending to do so have been advised to make presentations either orally or by way of written submission to the Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye.

After the 14-day lapses, the Bill is expected to be tabled in Senate for first reading. Thereafter, the Bill will be transmitted to various Senate committees that will be handling the various provision provided in the Bill.   

In the Bill, Sakaja proposed that 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.

“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 also states that employers shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss or coerce an employee to take a salary cut.

“Where an employer is unable to meet his obligations to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall permit an employee to take leave of absence without pay for the duration of the pandemic,” it says.

The Labour Cabinet Secretary shall develop measures to protect the employer and the employee during the pandemic, it further proposes.

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The Bill provides that where a pandemic affects the economic or purchasing power of the public, Treasury Cabinet Secretary may, with the approval of Parliament, introduce tax measures to cushion the affected persons for the duration.

The Bill further states that where citizens are not able to service their loans and mortgages, the individual borrower shall notify and enter into an agreement with the lending institution on how to make the payments after the pandemic.

In situations where those affected are incapable of servicing their loans and mortgages because of the pandemic, borrowers shall notify and enter into an agreement with the lending institution on how to make the payments after the pandemic, the draft law proposes.

The Senate team also wants borrowers saved from the burden of paying penalties with the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) barred from listing those who default during the period.

“Lenders shall not charge fees, interest or any other penalty for non-payment or late payment of obligations during the pandemic period,” it states.

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