Landlords increase scrutiny on tenants over security threats

Ariel view of Apartments in Westlands area-David Ndolo
Ariel view of Apartments in Westlands area-David Ndolo

Renting a house in Nairobi is becoming more difficult with new measures set by landlords and house agents as part of tenant profiling.

With rising cases of terror attacks, property owners are becoming more cautious before signing lease agreements.

Cate Mwenda, a tenant who lives in Kawangware area was handed a form, dubbed the 'Nyumba Kumi form' to fill before she could be allowed to continue with payments before occupying a house she had expressed interest in.

The Nyumba Kumi initiative is an upgrading of the community policing strategy, recognised under the National Police Service Act.

In the form, tenants are required to give details such as contacts of previous landlords, information on their profession and office address.

Mwenda says the form also asked for details on number of people that will live in the house.

Haphazard house letting, some security officials have said, is partly to blame for increasing terrorism activities in the country.

Crown Homes manager Brian Rukenya observes that it is up to the property owner to ensure security in their premises and doing a background check on tenants is one of the ways this can be achieved.

"Security mainly rests on the management. They should ensure they have all details about their tenants, including where they work or what they do for a living," says Rukenya.

He adds that

when signing

a lease agreement, a tenant should give all their information in order to prove that they are genuine persons.

In most gated communities, the managers borne the extra cost of security provision, by installing gadgets such as surveillance cameras, electric fencing, panic buttons and rescue options for tenants.

Some tenants who have rented homes in various estates, including upmarket areas, have turned out to be criminals, as evidenced by the activities of terrorists recently.

The infamous 'White Widow' who is still wanted for terrorist activities globally was rumoured to have rented an apartment in the up market Westlands suburbs, and could have schemed the attack on Westgate Mall from a vantage point, in her house.