A Senate bill sponsored by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, seeks to address the gridlock between landlords and tenants offering guidelines on how both parties can resolve business relationships in pandemic times.
The Pandemic Response and Management Bill, 2020 outlines socio-economic protective measures to deal with a wide range of issues following a declaration of pandemic both at the national and county level.
“The principal object of this Bill is to provide a framework for the effective response to and management of a pandemic in order to prevent the occurrence or spread of a pandemic whenever it arises,” said Sakaja
Measures include social safety nets, tax incentives, loans and mortgages, tenancy agreements among other issues.
For loans and mortgages, the bill seeks to protect borrowers by preventing lenders from imposing penalties on defaulters during the pandemic. In addition, a defaulter shall not be listed by a credit reference bureau.
The bill proposes that the borrower and the financial institution shall enter into an arrangement to review repayment modalities in such an event. The measures would apply for a period beginning from the declaration of the pandemic up to three months after the pandemic.
Financial institutions will not charge fees, interest or other penalties for non-payment or late payment of dues during the pandemic period.
The bill also prevents lenders from putting properties to auction and stop any termination of lease or license of immovable property in connection with non-payment of rent or other monies during the pandemic.
A part of the bill seeks to give tenants the ability to defer payment of rents until a pandemic is ended.
However, this does not release tenants from paying rent during the pandemic. The provision directs landlords and tenants to enter into agreement on how the arrears may be cleared after the pandemic period.
The bill also deals with relief for payment of utilities, taxes, rates, licenses, information technology, contracts and labour relations.