More than 100 property owners in Nyeri town have sued the county government for over-valuing their properties and introducing new land rates without conducting a public participation exercise.
In a suit that was certified urgent by the Environment and Lands Court judge Lucy Waithaka yesterday, the residents complained that the Governor Mutahi Kahiga-led government also undervalued some properties through the New Valuation Roll.
Through lawyer Wanyiri Kihoro, the plaintiffs- under the auspices of Landlords, Letting Agents and Property Owners Association- said the government had undertaken valuation of the agricultural properties to be charged tax without conducting a ground inspection.
The inspection, they said, would have made the residents aware that there was imminent introduction of rating in their areas.
“The government (respondent) has extended the rated zones of Nyeri town into the agricultural areas outlying the town’s Central Business District (CBD) without carrying out a feasibility study to assess the small-scale land holders’ ability to carry the rate burdens,” stated Mr Kihoro.
He added that residents in agricultural areas such as Tetu, King’ong’o, Mathari, Ruring’u and Gatitu stand to lose their properties through sale or auction by the government for failure to pay the rates.
“The residents fear the government’s demand for money will put them in ‘unpayable’ civic debts which could lead to loss of their agricultural holdings and the proposed rating will occasion huge debts which would have to be paid before any resident carries out any controlled developments on their land or build permanent houses,” said the lawyer.
One of the plaintiffs, Mr Anthony Kirigia Maina stated that his three-acre land in Skut had been valued at Sh24,385,000.
“That is a grossly exaggerated value and it is nowhere near its agricultural value,” Mr Maina said.