A section of rental house owners that have been running hostel services for students in tertiary and higher learning institutions in Meru are a disturbed lot owing to the accumulation of unpaid rents since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in the country.
The house owners told KNA that they have been living on false hopes after students were ordered to go home in a move to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
They said since students were ambushed and all learning institutions closed, majority of them just locked their rooms with all their personal effects obvious of how long the institutions would reopen.
The disturbed real estate owners are saying they have been found between a hard place and a rock since some students have stopped remitting their monthly rents.
“Some of my tenants had paid for the months of January to May, but they have since stopped paying rent. We cannot take any move since they are not in so that we can prompt them by closing their rooms or throwing them out,” said Ms. Janet Muchai a landlady near Kenya Methodist University Main Campus.
Ms. Muchai said she has been in contact with the parents of the students, but they have failed to pay their children’s rental fees saying that they are not sure when learning institutions shall be reopened.
She said those students from far off areas of the country were the ones who have not honoured her request to come and vacate the premises with some blocking her calls.
She said some parents were pleading with her to break into the rooms so that she can have the students’ property kept in one room so that she can only charge them storage fees.
The landlord expressed fears that the rents would accumulate further to a point that the affected students would opt to abandon their property and seek for alternative accommodation in case they resume learning.
“This is a difficult time for us as landlords that have been offering accommodation facilities to students. Our houses are now useless since students who have been our target clients have kept off,” lamented Ms. Muchai.
Those who say they are experiencing challenges in their business owing to the Covid-19 pandemic are asking the government to come to their rescue at this time of need since they foresee a situation where the students will not pay the rent arrears.
“We have to continue offering security of our premises since in case any of the houses is broken into the same students will come demanding for their property,” stated a landlord at Gitoro area that has been hosting students from the Meru National Polytechnic located along the Meru-Nanyuki Highway.
The landlord who sought anonymity said most of the residents around the institution had rushed into investing in the accommodation facilities after seeing a potential wing to the increased enrolment in the institution that send most students to seek accommodation services outside the institution.
The house owners that have been depending on students are appealing for the intervention of learning institutions so that they are cushioned against the looming huge losses.
They want the rent arrears be notified to the respective institutions so that the students are compelled to pay when they resume vowing not to waive the accrued rents.
“We have been partners in ensuring students get accommodation whenever they fail to be hosted by their respective institutions. This is the time the institutions should also help us recover our debts,” said the landlord.
Those who have been depending on students as their clients had been used to short closure seasons, where students usually have breaks that never last for over one month, but this time round it has now been six months since learning institutions were closed.
By Richard Muhambe