MY HUSTLE

How to get value for rent

You need to agree with your landlord about maintenance

In Summary

• Owning rental units is a business and part of income should be reinvested in them

A dilapidated rental house
A dilapidated rental house
Image: GODFREY KIMEGA

“A stitch in time saves nine.” The popular English saying warns that investing a little time and resources on a small problem saves the much greater effort that would be used if the problem were left to grow.

The saying is sound advice for the hundreds of thousands of Kenyan landlords, as well as the millions of Kenyans aspiring to own rental units.

The common belief is that all one need do as a landlord is build, get tenants and wait for rental income each month. The reality is that owning rental units is a business and a portion of rental income should be ploughed back into the buildings to keep them in good condition.

Often, misunderstanding arises between landlord and tenants over who is responsible for maintaining the premises. The best way to preempt such conflicts is through a rental agreement to be signed by each tenant when moving in. Apart from the usual clauses about paying on time, notice to vacate and the handling of deposits, the rental agreement should specify who between tenant and landlord is responsible for:

1. Minor and major repairs

2. Security, maintenance of grounds and garbage disposal

3. Regular painting of interior and exterior walls

4. Restoring the premises to their original state when the tenant moves out

5. Payment of electricity and water bills for common areas, such as corridors, gateways, parking spaces and staircases

With the rental agreement signed, it can be assumed that the tenant now understands his or her rights and responsibilities.