I’m curious why some caretakers in Eastlands flats are turning away single women looking for houses to rent. I received the same rejection from two caretakers who explained that their landlords had given them strict instructions not to rent out their one-bedroom apartment to single women. I was curious because some of us are God-fearing and have steady incomes, which means we would pay our rent on time, as opposed to some men who play hide and seek with landlords at the end of every month. Landlords, in my opinion, should give all citizens an equal opportunity to rent houses.
It is true that some landlords have some ‘strange’ requirements that must be satisfied before letting out their houses.
Some agents even know specific houses where landlords are clear that they would rather be empty than rented out to single women. The agents and caretakers say the owners are born-again Christians who are particular on morals.
But on the flipside, the same rule should apply to bachelors who may be paying rent on time but have different female guests every other day. There are also reported instances of landlords who start preaching the gospel when an unmarried couple turns up to request to let their property.
There are also landlords who not only ward off bachelors and bachelorettes but also couples with no kids – they can even refer you to flats where you can be accommodated.
Some landlords also don’t allow single tenants in to avoid nocturnal movements of questionable male and female visitors. Tension among tenants has also been used by some landlords to refuse to rent out to college and university students.
There are also hotels that have policies not to allow couples from sharing a room until they produce copies of their marriage certificates.
The ethics of such ‘moral’ requirements have recently been the subject of an animated national discourse.
Barely five years ago, a hotel in Kericho hit mainstream and social media headlines after it threw out an MP for failing to produce a marriage certificate. Other clients have suffered similar fates in hotels in Garissa and other parts of the country.
Legally, the same Constitution that protects the right to ownership of private property also prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender.
Landlords can strike a middleground by playing safe instead of appearing to use unconstitutional means to ward off prospective tenants. The Constitution does not bar unmarried couples from either living together or sharing a hotel room.
The middleground would be for the landlords to have tenancy agreements that stipulate how tenants should behave.
A tenancy agreement is a document that spells out the rules of engagement between the landlord and tenant.
Some landlords take advantage of the shortage of proper and affordable housing to bully desperate people clamouring for the few affordable houses.
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