Tenants owe Sonko’s City Hall Sh224 million, as rent revenue targets missed
City Hall is owed a whopping Sh224 million by tenants living in the over 16, 000 county houses across the capital.
The revelations emerged during a committee grilling over dwindling revenue collection by the county from house rents.
This comes after the revenue stream, one of the major income earners for the county, failed to meet its revenue target collecting Sh390.4 million in the first eight months of the current financial year against a target of Sh410.8 million.
Nairobi County Housing Director Marion Rono, appearing before the Budget and Appropriations committee on Wednesday, said that the debt has been accrued by tenants residing in 16, 746 houses belonging to City Hall over a period of six years.
Ms Rono told the committee, led by Kariobangi South MCA Robert Mbatia, defaulters are the biggest contributors to the dwindling collections with tenants in houses in Maringo and Woodley estates, the biggest culprits.
She added that weak enforcement by entities charged with collecting the rents, social issues among the tenants where most lack the money to pay and rent failing to reflect on the eJijiPay system used as other contributing factors.
The director gave an example of Maringo Estate which has 2, 200 self-contained houses where from July 1 to date, the county was supposed to have collected Sh24.8 million from but have only realized Sh14 million.
“We have a situation where a tenant in Kariobangi paying Sh7, 000 a month as rent owes the county Sh285, 000. There is also another one in Woodley Estate owing the county Sh500, 000. Do you think this is our problem or that of department charged with enforcement?” she posed.
Nonetheless, the director said that they target to raise Sh615.8 million from the revenue stream in the current financial year.
“We are keen on ensuring that we implement mechanisms to recover the Sh224 million owed to us by the tenants in the next six months. By the end of the financial year we target to have collected Sh615.8 million from the county rental houses,” she said.
LOSS OF REVENUE
Nevertheless, committee vice chairman Patrick Karani put the director to task to explain why her department allowed for the loss of revenue through weak or no enforcement.
He also faulted lack of reconciliation of payment records for the delayed remittance of Sh89 million paid by tenants.
“We are aware that this money has been paid by tenants through the JamboPay system but it does not reflect on your systems. This may lead to tenants being evicted yet they have paid,” said Mr Karani.
However, Ms Rono, in her response blamed court cases, failure by the tenants to honor debts, sub-letting and political interference as some of the obstacles they have to contend with while trying to collect the money owed to them.
She gave an example of a case in Woodley estate where 113 leases were issued to tenants in the area but they refused paying a variance that had accumulated to Sh14 million over the years.
Mrs. Marion further explained that tenants in old and new Ngara estates, Pangani and Woodley had taken the county to court after city hall increased the rent payable from Sh4, 500 to Sh8, 000.
“The tenants have refused to pay the new increased charges and insist that they will pay the old Sh4, 000. This court case has stalled the payment process.
“Political interference is also a major hindrance as the rent defaulters, when being evicted over non-payment, are protected by politicians,” she said.
Eastlands revenue officer Bianjo Mwaniki told the committee that tenants were given enough time to pay their debts before being evicted. He clarified that tenants were not thrown out of their offices on issuance of the first notice as earlier claimed.
He was responding to a query by the committee on why the county moved to evict tenants who claim to have paid but the same hadn’t reflected in their systems.
“We do not evict tenants on the first notice since we give them time to make a plan on how to pay us. At times it takes us as much as 6 months for us to evict them,” said Mwaniki.