Nairobi News

HashtagHustle

How crooked housing agents have perfected the art of ripping off tenants


On October 28, Caroline Gacheri moved out of her house in Utawala after serving a one-month notice but since then as much as she settled in a different place, she has never forgotten about what transpired between her and the house agent.

One year down the line, she can still vividly recall how the agent denied to hand her back a deposit of Sh20,000.

FRUSTRATED TENANT

A deposit is an extra fee that a tenant pays as the first instalment – in addition to the rent – which is refundable once they move out of the house.

Ms Gacheri, whose father was ailing by then and admitted in a hospital in India, tried to plead with the agent, but all her cries fell on deaf ears.

Frustrated and disappointed, she opted to share her predicament on Facebook.

“Why do house agents play with our hard-earned cash? The agents have rudely ignored my request of getting my deposit back. It has been a month and response is negatively rude,” she posted on Kilimani Mums and Dads group on Facebook.

She went further to seek help from those who were reading the post by calling the agent, whose number she shared.

Ms Gacheri is just one of the many Kenyans who suffered at the hands of rogue agents who never honour tenancy agreements.

NON-EXISTENT HOUSE

Gacheri must be lucky since she had paid money in the first place and given a house to stay in.

Mr Paul Ogutu’s story is different. He narrated to Nairobi News, how he once went to Mirema in search of a house and saw a poster advertising vacant houses and the phones for potential tenants to call.

“I decided to call the number and, in a few minutes, I met up was with the man whose name I cannot recall, who showed me a vacant one-bedroom house,” Ogutu recounts.

A satisfied Mr Ogutu decided to pay for it.

He sent the money M-Pesa and went back to his house in Kayole so that he could pick up his family who had already prepared to move out.

“In exactly one hour I was back to the house the agent had shown me but no one was there to usher me in. In fact, I found some other person who introduced himself as the caretaker, who told me not aware of my interest in moving in,” he said.

UNSCRUPULOUS AGENTS

It got worse for a certain Elizabeth Mwihaki, she had issued a one-month notice that she was planning to move out from her house in Kangemi.

However, the day she was moving out, the agents refused to refund her deposit, instead confiscating her bed and table.

“I decided to just let go because I did not have anyone to help me,” she says.

These are just some few cases of unscrupulous agents in Nairobi often rip off tenants or potential tenants in Nairobi. Many of them have a huge online presence.

Nairobi News has established that most tenants do not bother to follow up such cases with the tribunal that deals with such issues.

Lawyer Brian Mutoro argues that if the people who are mistreated report the matter to the police or the tribunal and follow it up, they will always find help.

“It is advisable for people to report whenever they are mistreated so that they get help,” he says.