Families occupying a rental apartment in Witethie area in Juja Constituency, Kiambu County, have been forced to stay in doorless, powerless and waterless houses after the landlord caused the destruction while protesting delayed rent payment.
The occupants of Limpopo Apartments said the property owner, Francis Kamau, removed their doors and disconnected electricity and water supply on Monday evening, April 6.
Occupants of the building say Kamau came to the property armed with crude weapons, including hammers and steel bars. The landlord is said to have gone from house to house removing doors of tenants who were yet to pay their March rent.
The one-storey building has 17 single-room units, with each tenant paying a monthly rent of Ksh3, 000. Seven doors were removed after Kamau, who lives away from the building, embarked on the destruction spree.
One of the occupants told K24 Digital that their tenancy agreement allows them up to the tenth day of each month to settle their rent arrears.
Ambrose Ondero, a carpenter who lives in Kamau’s house, said his business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 outbreak, hence the difficulty in raising monthly house rent on time.
“Customers are nowhere to be seen. No one is buying or repairing their furniture,” said Ondero.
The tenant said on Monday evening (April 6), he returned home from work only to find his house broken into, power and water supply disconnected, and above all, his door removed.
“I called the landlord on his cellphone line, but he was not available. Later, when he switched on his phone, I called him again, but he did not receive the call,” said Ondero.
“It is unfortunate that he resorted to removing our doors and disconnecting us from electricity and water supply, yet the rent-payment deadline of 10th has not elapsed. This is extremely inhumane of him,” added Ondero.
The tenant said they have been forced to sleep in turns at night so as to ensure their house items are secured, given seven of the houses do not have doors.
“Some of us cannot go to work because we can’t lock in our house items,” said Ondare.
“We only untie or lower our curtains to act as doors. At night it is very cold, and children are the most affected.”
Lucy Njeri, a mother of three who lives in Kamau’s house, said they risk contracting waterborne and bacterial diseases after Kamau disconnected water supply.
Njeri is a trader at Witethie Market, which has since been closed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“I am now forced to stay at home. It is extremely hard raising house rent on time under current circumstances,” she said, adding: “I urge Kamau to exercise patience, understanding and restraint. Most of us have never defaulted on rent payment.”
A K24 Digital spot-check at the apartment confirmed the tenants’ allegations. Poor sanitation in corridors was too evident as remains of foodstuff were littered all over the place.
K24 Digital reached the landlord, Francis Kamau, for comment. He admitted he removed the doors, disconnected power and water supply to protest delayed rent payment for the month of March.
“I won’t allow them to stay any longer in my house if they haven’t met their rent obligation,” said Kamau.
“I broke into their houses to push them into leaving my house. And now that most of them have stayed put, I will return there, most likely later today (Wednesday, April 8), to remove their iron sheets,” said an unapologetic Kamau.
We understand that the landlord stored the removed doors at his friend’s house.
This comes days after a similar incident happened in Eldoret, Uasin-Gishu County on Friday last week (April 3)
An Eldoret family was forced to spend the night of April 3 in the cold after the landlady of their rented house removed the roof, demanding the tenants settle a balance of Ksh500.
The family comprises a middle-aged man, his wife, who is in her early 30s, and their 1-month old daughter.
Jane Bosibori, a resident of the informal Huruma settlement, said she had paid the landlady Ksh3, 500 out of the Ksh4, 000 monthly rent for March, but she was shocked Friday afternoon when the landlady sent young men to unroof her single-room house.
“She (landlady) said if we are unable to raise the Ksh500, then we should vacate the house,” Bosibori told K24 Digital.
The mother-of-one said her husband, a boda boda operator, was unable to offset the balance after his business was affected by the 7pm to 5am national curfew, which came into effect on March 27.
“Currently, we have exhausted our finances. Even if we were to move out, where will we get money to rent another house, which is cheaper?” posed Bosibori, a house-wife.
Bosibori’s husband, David Juma, said he was shocked by the landlady’s action, given “we have never defaulted or delayed in settling our house rent arrears before”.
Neighbours termed the landlady as an “inconsiderate” person, who is quick to anger.
They claimed she always has the tendency of kicking out her tenants at the slightest belief that her rent money has been delayed.
Bosibori claimed the landlady scolded her, going to the extent of telling her to “marry a rich man who can handle her financially”.
“She told me to ditch my husband for being a boda boda rider,” said Bosibori.
K24 Digital’s attempts to get the landlady to speak bore no fruit as she refused to receive our calls or respond to texts.
Bosibori and her husband vowed to continue occupying the roofless house until they raise the needed Ksh500 in exchange of their roof being restored.