Thursday, November 15, 2007

Council houses rent hike


Since sometime last year, tenants who have been living in Council flats anywhere in Mombasa, have been told, when they go to pay their rent, that, it has increased, to an unbelievable amount. Considering that the Council does no maintenance of these houses as well as the fact that most of them are between 60 and 70 years old, this latest rent hike of over 1000/-, is totally ridiculous.

Add to this, the Council has not given us a legal and written notice of 3 months. The rent has also been collected in the most strange manner. Different tenants ended up paying different amounts for different months. If, the Landlord, in this case the Council, does not give us a written notice in due time as required by the law, there is nothing to hold the Council accountable for what it collects, when and how much.

The cashiers have been issuing receipts for payments. I have photographic proof of what they have been doing.

Below, is just one of the emails and the latest that I've written with the attached photos of what is happening.

Raziya wrote on 01-Nov-07 3:02 PM:

Below, is my account of what I'd promised you, yesterday....


The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
So many discrepancies...
If, you look closely, you'll find that there is no Ref. No., the notification is to my late father's name, they have asked me to go to Buxton, while in actual fact we were supposed to go to the Tudor office and nowhere does it say that we should go with our rent receipts. This notification was hand delivered on the mid-afternoon of the 30th October 2007, though, again, nowhere is the date written.

Do these people really know what they are doing?

Then, when, I reached the Tudor office at around 10.30 am, the two clerks (women), were out somewhere on a tea break! There was already an old blind man who was accompanied by another young man who had helped him there, from another Council Estate, waiting. As I, too, waited, another tenant showed up (from my estate). And we all waited....

Eventually, when the two clerks showed up after about half an hour, they lazily strolled to their tables and equally lazily and insolently started working. The person who had come last was dealt with first and if one objected, you were ignored! Like the old man was, by one of the clerks (who could have been his grand-daughter). She was extremely rude and insolent to him and started quarelling with the old man and answering back. This, in our culture is not a done thing and the old man rightly found her behaviour insulting and rude. Therefore, he spoke up and told her so, in no uncertain terms that she was there to 'serve' him and not the other way round. She carried on being offensive but mercifully and eventually, when the old man wouldn't keep quiet, left the room. She couldn't be bothered that she was doing no work in the process. The other clerk, after finishing with the guy who had come in last, took up the old man's case and dealt with it.

Then, came my turn. She took my receipts, which show that rent has been paid till (according to the receipt) January 2008, but, she kept calculating something on her calculator and not explaining to me what she was doing or how she arrived at the figure pictured. Do these people really work transparently? When I brought to her attention that my rent had been paid well in advance, she said, it was not and that it was in arrears. When asked for an explanation, she told me to go see the Housing Manager at Buxton. Knowing how our Council employees work, or don't work, I further asked her what or whom I should see if he/she wasn't in the office. I was told to go to the town office and see the Director of Housing!

The reason, I'm writing this is because, I've had previous misadventures with the Council many, many times and especially so when, soon after my father's demise, I had to let them know and get them to change the name of the tenant. It took many trips to the Council and being shuttled from one office to another and another, before, this simple act was done many months, later!

I wonder what and where is the Minister for Local Government? I've sent him, at the beginning of the year, by post this contentious increment of rent without the tenants being given written notice 3 months in advance as per the law, but, NOTHING seems to have been done about this and business continues as usual at our so-called Council.

The rent paid in advance

Proof of having paid my rent well in advance. Why issue me with a receipt if it's not the correct amount? And why haven't they given us a written notice of rent increment as the law requires? And on what grounds have they increased the rent by nearly a 1000/-?! And from which month/year?
Since the above, I've had to go to a lawyer at Kituo Cha Sheria who wrote a letter to them to explain the arrears of 9250/-. We've, just received, yesterday, another strange figure of 14,750/- as at November 1st (no year), with an attached copy of the Kenya Gazette of 7th July 2006 where it says in one of the pages that the rent for Nyerere is 2500/-!

Now, if you check the attached pictures of the various receipts from my neighbours paid for different and the same months, they all differ.

So, to date, the rest of my neighbours have ended up paying 2300/- since last year while I have been paying the original before this strange rent hike of 1375/-.

Why hasn't the Council given us a legal written notice of this increment. And if one believes the Kenya Gazette, it's a hike of 1200 nearly, for flats which are not maintained, leaking and pretty old, too. Isn't there some kind of law as to how much a landlord, in this case, our redoubtable Council, can increase the rent? These are also low cost housing.

Please, investigate this issue and have the Local Authorities obey the law as they would have us, do so, too.

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