Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Land Bill

Section 68 of the Land Bill 2011 seeks to abolish the Distress for Rent Act Cap 293 Laws of Kenya. In effect this means if the bill is to pass into a law in it's current form, then the Landlords will forthwith cease to engage auctioneers to recover rent arrears from defaulting tenants. They will instead have to seek the court's assistance to terminate the lease and thereafter sue the tenant for the recovery of the arrears. Supporters of the the bill argue that auctioneers harass rent defaulters while carrying on their duties. It is morally wrong for anybody including a tenant to refuse to pay an owed debt. Rent is a debt. Amongst the core duties of auctioneers is to recover rent arrears from defaulting tenants through the provisions of the Distress for Rent Act Cap 293 as read with the Auctioneers Act Cap 526. Auctioneers also execute court warrants of attachment and sale against judgement debtors. They also carry out evictions pursuant to court order. If a landlord/ landlady seeks the assistance of the court to recover rent arrears then the court after hearing both parties and finds merit in favour of the landowner then the Court will issue a warrant of attachment against the property of the tenant and which still will be executed by licensed auctioneer. In effect what the Land Bill is proposing is to lengthen the time a landlord can recover his dues from a defaulting tenant and this is no doubt going to hurt the economy in the long run. We all know how cases drag in court with some cases running to over a decade. Justice delayed is justice denied. It also perpetrates impunity. The land bill therefore should not be passed in its current form. Let the distress for Rent be.