Counties

Nyeri landowners lose bid to quash 400pc rates raise

case

Summary

  • Property owners and landlords in Nyeri have lost a bid to quash a decision of the county to increase land rates by 400 per cent.
  • Justice Frolence Muchemi struck out the case and ruled that the Environment and Land Court should determine the dispute because it is related to the Valuation Act.

Property owners and landlords in Nyeri have lost a bid to quash a decision of the county to increase land rates by 400 per cent.

Justice Frolence Muchemi struck out the case and ruled that the Environment and Land Court should determine the dispute because it is related to the Valuation Act.

“Issues relating to land and rates are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Environment and Land Court,” she said.

While allowing an objection the county government’s lawyer Wahome Gikonyo raised against the petition, the judge said the aggrieved party should draft fresh pleadings seeking remedies that fall within the authority of the Environment and Land Court.

The group wanted the court to quash the county’s approval of the valuation roll, arguing that there was no meaningful public participation.

They also wanted the court to issue an order compelling the county to restart the valuation, publication and notification for revision of land rates in an inclusive and participatory process by all people of Kiganjo township.

The petitioners complained that the county revised plot rates payable to it upwards by more than 400 percent without involving them.

The court heard that no valuation of the parcels of land was conducted and no publication was done or notice issued. The petitioners said they learnt of the new rates as they were doing the payments.

They said the new rates are not sustainable in Kiganjo because the town has stagnated economically. According to them, the county should have conducted a valuation and collected public views before ariving at the decision.

The petitioners said they sued after the county forced them to pay the new rates plus penalties.

The property owners added that the devolved unit issued notices to tenants requiring them to pay the petitioners’ monthly rent collections in an account at Equity Bank starting July 1, 2015.

However, the county denied that there was no public participation in the preparation of the property valuation roll.

Mr Gikonyo said the county invited public views on the draft valuation roll through a notice in the newspaper and a Kenya Gazette.

“Despite these notices, no grievances were articulated and thus the petitioners cannot after four years object to the new rates when they did not exercise their right to present any objections to the said rates,” said the lawyer.