Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Emailing: My neighbour's latest receipt, What she got from the Council's Tudor office.

Attached are two photos of what our council does regarding rent payment. On the face of it, there's nothing wrong, but, when one takes into account my previous emails about this issue, one wonders about how they work.

My neighbours now are compelled to pay 2300/- which is an increase without us being given a written notice about it, since last year. I went to a lawyer who helped me write a letter to them and on whose advice I paid my first quarter's rent for this year by sending them a banker's cheque with copies to the Ministry of Local Government and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. This payment, the Council immediately, without any objection, accepted by sending me a receipt via post dated the 16th January, 2007. Subsequently, I've paid for every quarter, in advance, at the original rent of 1375/-. At no point did the Council raise any objection nor did they send me or any of my neighbours any notice of a rent increase.

Then, suddenly on the 30th of October 2007, in the afternoon, a person appeared on my doorstep saying he was from the Council and handed me an undated paper on which was written my late father's name, and asking me to go to the Council's Buxton office the next day by 9.00 am. The messenger also told me that I should go with all my rent receipts of 2006/2007 as they wanted to adjust their ledger books!

Before I proceed further, I'd like to put in some questions. Why was the paper not dated? Why did they give us such short notice to go to their offices? Some of us work and others might not be free to go to their offices at that hour, i.e. it was a notice of less than 24 hours! Then, considering the name of the tenant has been changed officially from my late father's since he died, to mine, they should have this in their records and therefore, why was it addressed to him. I'm not trying to split hairs, of course, but, trying to point to the Council's inefficiency and by extension, anything that they do is suspect. That, their right hand does not know what the other is doing!!!

Another point of contention was where we were actually supposed to go - not to the Buxton office but to the Tudor office. This, most people didn't find out till they got to the Buxton office where they were politely and irritatingly told to proceed to the Tudor office. Do they really know what they are doing? And why?

When I went there, I encountered the most slovenly and insolent couple of female clerks who were sitting with their backs to us. When, it was my turn to be 'served' one of the clerks took my receipts and started writing in a huge ledger book with a calculator ready into which she kept feeding numbers. She made no overture of explaining to me what she was doing, so, I decided to ask her. In the process, I had to get up and go nearer and I kept seeing the figure 2300/- in one of the columns of this ledger. So, I asked her what she was calculating to which I got no reply and instead, she pulled a form like paper towards her and wrote on it 9250/- in rent arrears from July/October and no year. I again asked her to explain what she was doing and she answered that this was what I owed the Council. When pointed out to her the fact and the receipt that I'd payed my rent till December 2007 (but according to the receipt it says Jan 2008!), why were there arrears? The only reply she seemed to be capable of giving was to go and see the housing manager at Buxton and if this person was not there then the Director of Housing and Social Services at the town office.

Subsequently, I decided to see a lawyer at Kituo Cha Sheria, who wrote them a letter asking them to explain this strange figure considering my rent has been payed up till the end of this current year. After a week we both got a reply hand delivered in bulky envelopes. This was due to the photocopy of the Kenya Gazette of 7th July 2006 where among the many and irrelevant pages is a note with a suspicious squiggle and lines along the Nyerere flats and the rent is supposed to be 2500/-!

Another question and observation. If they could deliver this strange missive by hand to both my lawyer and I, why couldn't they do the same by following the law and of sending written notices to their tenants giving them 3 months notice of a rent increase? Also, the increase is a very ridiculous one and quite shocking of over 100%. These are low cost Council flats, which are very old (between 60 and 70 years), and they do no maintenance whatsoever to them. So, on what grounds did they increase the rent? And why weren't we given a written notice of the same?

Now, comes the issue at hand and the attachments. The Council is still collecting 2300/- from all of my other neighbours one of whom was in arrears of 500/- due to them (the Council), having told them to pay 1800/- at the beginning of November 2006, which is what one of the attachment reads. And she has to balance this off, when she pays the January 2008 rent. The other is a picture of the receipt for the payment of the months of November and December 2007 whose total is 4600/-.

Therefore, why are they asking me to pay 2500/-? And why am I in arrears when I have receipts to prove that I've paid my rent till the end of this current year? As they made no objection at anytime and quietly issued me with legal receipts of payment where nowhere does it say that there is a balance remaining to be still paid.

Does all this mean that their own collection is suspect and are trying to victimize their tenants for their own inadequacies? I have not refused to pay. The only thing I insist on is that they adhere to lawful and accountable practices. And example being that we should be given a written notice of any rent increase at least 3 months in advance. The other being that there should not be discrepancies in the rent collection. Aren't they computerized? They did not have to inconvenience their tenants by asking them to go with receipts to update their ledger books. As they are computerized, this information should have been on their fingertips as to who is paying what.

Can somebody answer the above questions, please?

My neighbour's latest receipt

What she got from the Council's Tudor office.

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