One sure way to ensure that you do not get mistreated is by knowing your rights.  Do you know what happens when you quote a relevant law to a cop when they are arresting you wrongfully?  Well, in an ideal situation they realize and stop.  Things on the ground are different. 

This is not true of real estate though.  If you are aware of your legal and moral rights as a tenant then you will not be taken for granted. Your rights will be respected. Unless of course you come across some of those unscrupulous landlords who operate above the law.  In this case then you will need to find another place to live or seek legal redress.  Below are some of your rights as a tenant.  For the landlords, the list below are things that are expected of you as the property owner. 

1. Discrimination

You have a right not to be discriminated against.  Every tenant in the building regardless of gender or race should be treated the same.  An example would be where the landlord refuses to attend to maintenance issues in a unit rented by a woman but responds promptly to a unit rented by a man.  Another would be to charge about double the rent to a foreign tenant.  No tenant is deserving of this.  Discrimination brings about discord in the building.  It creates an unhealthy environment and makes the building uncomfortable for some. 

2. State of the building

Imagine a situation where the building is run down.  There will be a huge crack by the side of building as well as multiple broken window panes.  Some landlords have actually been known to paint over the scarlet Xs the authorities paint on unsafe buildings. Not only is this unsafe for the tenants and whoever else who comes into the building, it is also in contravention with the law.  Every landlord must ensure that their property is well maintained and habitable.  As a tenant, you have grounds to leave if the landlord is adamant to repair the building.  Any injury incurred due to these issues could be subject to legal action.  The landlord could be sued. 

3. Safety

Similarly, the landlord must take whatever necessary steps to ensure the safety of the tenants.  A good example is the stairs.  Imagine a situation where there are no guard rails on the stairs. Another situation would be leaving an unfinished floor or just the top floor unguarded.  This is especially dangerous if the top floor is the designated laundry hanging area.  Every landlord should do all that is necessary to ensure that the tenants do not suffer accidents from inadequacy of measures. 

4. Privacy

The tenant is an adult. Once a tenant has started their tenancy in a building, the landlord has to respect them and their privacy. Whatever life the tenant deems right for them is their business.  As the landlord, you are not allowed to make comments or give unsolicited advice.  You might feel that once you are older with more experience then you have a right to give your opinion or advice.  You are wrong.  Keep your comments to yourself.  Do not talk about information that you found out about through your capacity like age or ethnicity. 

5. Notice

It is only polite to let people know before you inconvenience them or make a decision that would impact their lives. That means that if the landlord wants to inspect the building for maintenance needs, he or she has to give prior notice.  Before anything that could be an inconvenience to the tenant is done, the tenant must be given sufficient notice.  If the landlord decides to sell the building then the tenants must be given enough time to find alternative accommodations.  If the landlord wants to raise the rent then the tenants must find out in advance.  This way they will prepare or simply just move somewhere else.  Basically, any change regardless of it being the prerogative of the property owner should be communicated to the tenants.  Not to ask for permission but to give them time to prepare so they can properly absorb the inconvenience.

6. Freedom

As long as the tenant remains within the boundaries of the tenancy agreement and their actions are not illegal then they can have guests, come home at whatever time and do whatever else adult do without worrying about input from the landlord.  The landlord must understand that the tenant is a free being.  As long as the freedom does not affect other tenants or lead to failure to pay rent then the tenant should expect to be free.

7. Deposit

Deposit should be refundable.  There are a few instances outlined in the tenancy agreement when the deposit may be deducted or fully retained.  One such example is if the tenant caused damage worth the deposit amount or if the tenant went a full month without paying rent.  Even then, the tenant deserves a full explanation of this. In the same spirit, the landlord has a right to demand that a person pay deposit for however much they feel like before moving in.  Note that in commercial real estate, deposit and goodwill are two different fees.  Goodwill is not refundable except in some cases but deposit is. 

In this town, no one will be mindful of your rights. No one will care about what you think your rights should be. It is up to you as the tenant to know your rights and stand up for them. It is up to you to demand what is owed to you. If not, you will be walked over by everyone. Treat renting in Nairobi like walking on a crowded street. If you do not fight to push through the crowd, you will never get to your destination. Good luck!