Caretaker in eviction row with tenants seeks to bar arrest

Residential apartments
Residential apartments in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A caretaker of a flat, which hit headlines late last year after its landlord used human waste to evict tenants, is seeking the court’s intervention against being arrested.

Joseph Kagwatha, caretaker of Ocean Park Apartments at Lang’ata Estate, now wants the High Court to issue an order stopping Lang’ata Police Station OCS from arresting him for allegedly harassing a tenant.

Through lawyer Jane Okoth, Mr Kagwatha has sued the deputy chairman of the Rent Restriction Tribunal after it issued an arrest order last month against him. He argues that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to issue the order and he wants the High Court to temporarily suspend it.

“Mr Kagwatha intends to obtain orders of certiorari for purposes of quashing the decision of the deputy chairman issued on May 17. If executed it will be detrimental as it may cause irreparable damage to him,” said Ms Okoth.

The dispute started in December 2017 when the landlord notified his 40 tenants of the rent increase from Sh25,000 to Sh30,000 a month.


The tenants took their grievances to the tribunal on December 18 after the landlord denied them electricity, water and security as well as parking services.

The tribunal issued a temporary order stopping the landlord and his agent from enforcing the proposed raise, denying the tenants crucial services or evicting them. It also certified the matter as urgent.

However, while all this happened one of the tenants -- Brutus Juma -- was out of the country.

According to Mr Kagwatha, the owner ordered all tenants to vacate the premise to allow for repairs.

He claims that all the other tenants vacated except Mr Juma who was away for more than three months. The caretaker accuses tenant of locking up his house and going for the trip despite receiving a notice to vacate.

And as a result, he says, he stored Mr Juma’s property at a cost of Sh40,000 while he was away but the tenant has not yet paid him for the cost incurred. Instead, he says, the tenant filed another suit at the tribunal seeking his arrest.

Mr Kagwatha said he was upset that the tribunal went ahead to order him to release Mr Juma’s property in his custody without paying for the storage costs.

He wants the court to set aside the tribunal’s latest directive because it only has jurisdiction to issue such an order in a case where the rent payable does not exceed Sh2,500.