While most landlords demand payment of one or two months rent as a deposit once a new tenant moves in, many tenants end up never being refunded at all or are given meagre amounts despite prior agreements.
Investigations by kenyagist.com revealed that many tenants in major cities and towns had suffered at the hands of rogue caretakers and landlords.
A common complaint was that home improvements made by tenants were cited in slashing huge amounts from expected refunds.
Another was that many caretakers and landlords were simply nowhere to be found when tenants sought the refunds leading many to give up.
One tenant revealed how they lost 80 percent of their Ksh20,000 deposit after re-painting a small one-bedroom house.
Another was forced to involve police after her landlord refused for months to refund her rent deposit.
Speaking to kenyagist.com, legal consultant Brian Karume noted that while no provisions existed in the Constitution dealing explicitly with rent deposit refunds, it was important to have such agreements in writing.
Kenyan laws, in particular, cover issues including tenancy rights, arbitrary evictions and rent increments and conditions of rented premises.
He explained that an agreement between the tenant and the landlord on rent deposits was binding and just as enforceable as any other contract.
“The best way to protect yourself is to ensure that you have the agreement on paper, stating clearly what you’ve paid as the deposit and the conditions under which the amount will be refunded,” he noted.
Tenants as well as landlords are also encouraged to take up such disputes with the Rent Tribunal if they fail to resolve them.
The Tribunal is anchored in the Rent Restriction Act, Chapter 296 of the Laws of Kenya meant to protect tenants from exploitation by landlords while guaranteeing the landlord reasonable profits from investment in housing.