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Solution for landlord-tenant electricity wars

As he prepared to move houses last month, computer technician Fredrick Sande was a happy man since he knew he would have an easy time tying up loose ends as he vacated his former residence.

Some of the things the landlord checked were the general condition of the house, the paint on the wall and the water and sewerage system.

Whether the house was in good shape or not, Sande knew the landlord would take part of his Sh14,500 deposit and use it to repaint the house.

Until recently, the landlord also had to ensure that the utility bills were paid to prevent inconveniencing the next tenant.

The installation of prepaid electricity meters by Kenya Power at this particular block of flats in Umoja, Nairobi, eased the transition.

The pre-paid initiative was rolled out by Kenya Power four years ago and the number of customers using the meters has been rising steadily, with the power company expected to convert all its two million customers to prepay at a cost of Sh12.6 billion.

Safeguarding landlords

“The prepaid meter is perhaps the best thing to have ever happened to tenants and landlords in Nairobi. They can now fight about everything else but electricity bills,” he said.

According to Sande, the prepaid meter prevents defaults in electricity payments and thus safeguards landlords.

“When I was scouting for a new house, one of the things I considered was prepaid meters. I wanted to minimise chances of finding that the previous tenant had left without paying the power bill,” he said.

Besides that, with a prepaid meter, he knew the landlord would not ask him for electricity deposit.

“Some landlords demand up to Sh4,800 for electricity before they rent out houses. The money was allegedly for meter deposit and was  refundable,” said Sande.

Most of the time, however, landlords did not refund the money, leading to serious conflicts with tenants.

“Prepaid meters have made it difficult for landlords to ask for the deposit,” he said. “Caretakers would get the bill and divide it equally among tenants. This led to complaints,” said Simon Okoth.of Kayole.