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Rent and sacco disputes top cases handled by key tribunals

Rent tribunal
Disputes over rent payments and the operations of Saving and Credit Co-operative Societies (saccos) form the highest number of cases filed with tribunals in Kenya. GRAPHIC | STANSLAUS MANTHI | NMG 

Disputes over rent payments and the operations of Saving and Credit Co-operative Societies (saccos) form the highest number of cases filed with tribunals in Kenya, a new report from the Judiciary has shown.

Out of about 60 tribunals, those handling disputes between landlords and tenants in business premises and rental houses were the most frequented by Kenyans followed by those pitting members against cooperative societies.

“Rent Restriction Tribunal had the highest number of filed cases followed by Cooperative Tribunal and Business Premises Tribunal,” says a latest performance report by the Judiciary.

Some 3,620 cases were filed in Rent Restriction Tribunal, out of which 889 had been resolved by mid last year.

The tribunal is charged with regulating the increase of rent, the right to possession, the exaction of premiums and fixing standard rents in relation to controlled premises.

Its headquarters is in Nairobi, with 10 regional offices in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kakamega, Eldoret, Embu, Lamu and Garissa. But it had only 10 members during the financial year 2017/18.

The Political Parties Dispute Tribunal also had a busy period in 2018—coinciding with the General Election held in March of that year.

The tribunal received some 569 cases filings between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. All the cases were resolved except one.

This tribunal resolves disputes between members of a political party, member and a political party, among political parties, an independent candidate and a political party and among coalition parties and also hears appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Political Parties under the Political Parties Act 2011.

High filing of cases was also witnessed in the Business Premises Tribunal whose mandate is to determine disputes between landlords and tenants in business premises.

The tribunal also has powers to determine a range of issues such as whether or not any tenancy is controlled and determine or vary the rent to be payable in respect of any controlled tenancy.

Determine disputes

Its mandate is to determine disputes between landlords and tenants in business premises within the limits set out in the Shops, Hotels and Catering Establishments Act.

In 12 months to June, 2018, the Business Premise Tribunal received 569 cases and resolved 543 of them.

During the period under review, Co-operative Tribunal received 682 cases and closed the year having resolved 410 cases. The tribunal handles disputes between cooperative societies and members.

It also deals with disputes pitting cooperative societies against past members and deceased members.

“In the period under review, Cooperative Tribunal had the highest number of pending cases at 3,917 followed by Rent Restriction Tribunal at 3,531 and Business Premises Rent Tribunal at 3,328,” says the Judiciary.

Under the 2010 constitution, tribunals are part of the Judiciary and therefore critical players in the justice system. This is a departure from the previous constitutional regime in which tribunals operated under their respective line ministries.

Pending cases refer to unresolved cases or those where the final judicial decision in the case has not been made at the end of a given period.

Overall, 5,615 cases were filed in tribunals while 2,530 cases were resolved.

11,100 pending cases

At the close of the financial year, there were 11,100 cases pending in all tribunals. The case clearance rate for the period under review was 45 percent.

According to the Judiciary, 98 per cent of pending cases were in Cooperative Tribunal, Rent Restriction Tribunal and Business Premises Tribunal while 11 tribunals shared the remaining two per cent of the pending cases. Four tribunals did not have any pending cases.

Staff distribution data shows that tribunals had a total of 302 members with Rent Restriction Tribunal having the highest (73). This is followed by Business Premises Rent Tribunal, HIV and Aids Tribunal and Co-operative Tribunal with 30, 29 and 27 members respectively.

With the 2010 Constitution, tribunals are supposed to transition to the Judiciary to enhance independence. Five tribunal transited to the Judiciary during the reporting period, bringing the cumulative figure of those that have been transited by the National Treasury to 20.

“The purpose of transitioning tribunals is to ensure they are delinked from the Executive and integrated in the court system,” notes the Judiciary.