Monster Kenyan landlord in US ordered to pay Sh1.2m or face jail time
A Kenyan landlord once described as having a “special place… in San Francisco’s abusive landlord hall of fame” faces a possible jail term for failing to hand over more than $124,000 (Ksh1.2 million) or go to jail for 10 days.
A US court on Thursday found Anne Kihagi in contempt of court for violation of a court order.
The enforcement of the order was however stayed for one week to give the landlord another chance to pay the city $124,900 (Sh1.2 million) in tenant rents collected in January.
Attorneys for the City had argued Kihagi not only failed to pay but also told tenants not to send their rent cheques to the city.
Kihagi was ordered to pay the city more than US$2.4 million (Sh247.5 million) in penalties in May 2017 after City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit alleging she had engaged in a campaign of harassment, retaliation and fraudulent evictions against tenants at seven rent-controlled buildings and failed to repair building code violations.
That amount has since risen to nearly $5.5 million (Sh550 million) due to legal fees and other costs.
At the time of the judgement the magistrate said Kihagi “has a special place reserved for her in San Francisco’s abusive landlord hall of fame.”
“Her cruelty is stunning,” he said.
Kihagi has appealed that judgement.
Attorney Isaac Zfaty, who is representing Kihagi, said he could not yet say whether his client intended to pay the amount currently demanded by the court or appeal that decision as well.
Zlaty said Kihagi had been prevented by court rulings from presenting evidence in trial that would have helped her case.
“My client has received a lot of negative publicity, but she’s not a slum lord, she goes in and puts a lot of time and money into her properties and makes them very nice,” Zlaty said. “There’s been a large group of her residents who have banded together against her and gotten the attention of the City and County of San Francisco.”
Kihagi was ordered to return to court with a cashier’s cheque in hand on Thursday March 8.
Ms Kihagi, a landlady with a portfolio of property worth $24 million (Sh2.4 billion), was also sentenced to five days in a San Francisco jail for violating the housing law.
This is after a two-year bruising court battle with her tenants who have christened her the “notorious landlord”.
In fact, Ms Kihagi may end up being fined up to $4 million (Sh412.5 million) since the judge also ruled that she must foot the costs incurred during the case.