What you need to know:
- Over the years, landlords seem to have conjured rules that rival those of witch doctors, making tenants question the necessity of these seemingly absurd regulations.
- While some obviously border on the extreme and are completely invasive, the common denominator is the agreement portion of these relationships.
- Having a clear contract could help minimise the bickering between landlords and their tenants.
Let's be honest, being a landlord isn't always a walk in the park, but being a tenant isn't a piece of cake either.
A tenant once told me that landlords and their ridiculous rules have a reserved spot in heaven.
Yes, you read that part right—a special place in heaven because one rule that shook this tenant was that they were not permitted to fry foods unless they wanted to turn their landlord’s house into a barbecue pit.
Over the years, landlords seem to have conjured rules that rival those of witch doctors, making tenants question the necessity of these seemingly absurd regulations.
As we enter a new month, landlords wear a smile, anticipating the start of a new month and new budgets.
On the flip side, for tenants, the dawn of a new month often brings a sense of unease.
This sense of unease isn't always about the rent due; it’s about the ridiculous rules that landlords implement that are out of contract.
It reaches the point where some of the tenants fear their landlords as though they were police who’ve shown up with a search warrant.
A tenant from Sinza Mori, Dar es Salaam; Peter Daniel recalls his house-hunting experience, where he stumbled upon a seemingly perfect place at a desirable price.
Little did he know that his landlord had one bizarre rule in store: “tenants were prohibited from shopping at any grocery store other than his wife’s.”
"The landlord's wife has everything on the list that one may need; the crazy part however was the way she monitors her husband’s tenants,” shares Peter.
Meanwhile, a Tabata tenant, Jumanne Fadhili was perplexed when his landlord asked for his CV before handing over the keys.
“It was weird because I had never experienced this before. When I asked him why he needed my CV, he explained that he checks to ensure the tenants are well-educated and won't give him a hard time paying rent. The better your CV, the better your chances are to secure a place to stay," he explains.
On the other hand, Mbagala Rangitatu tenant; Karimu Abdul recounts an unusual requirement from his landlord: “Only tenants from a specific tribe were allowed.”
“When I went to rent the house, the landlord asked about my tribe, so I lied. I didn’t know it would be a big deal until last December, when he gave me notice for forgetting that I lied after he asked me to accompany him to Kilimanjaro,” says Karim.
For those familiar with tribal stereotypes, the Chaggas are known to travel up north to their homes for the Christmas season and for Karim’s landlord, tribalism was a deal breaker.
Husna Abdallah, residing in Kinondoni, shares a unique rule from her landlord that her husband isn’t allowed to go outside shirtless.
“My landlord told me that the way my husband walks around shirtless like he owns the house isn’t right. So, he told me to talk to my husband and ask him to stop walking around shirtless because he doesn’t own the house,” she shares.
On the other hand, Mikocheni tenant Nelly Julius expresses frustration over her landlord's curfew-like restrictions, treating tenants as if they lived rent-free.
"I know she's old enough to be my grandma, but a curfew? It feels like I don't have the right to go outside at night or come home late. If what they do is called love, then it’s wrong. Let us also enjoy the house because we also pay rent," she adds.
Nelly further laments the equal splitting of water bills with the landlord, despite varying usage patterns.
"Living in a place where we share water bills 50/50 despite having one water metre feels like living in jail. It's challenging to find another place, and the lease mandates the split, creating a difficult situation," explains Nelly.
However, we also had a chat with local landlords to establish where some of their rules stem for and if they are really worth the quarrel, unease or discomfort it causes their tenants.
According to Thabit Rajabu, a landlord from Ukonga Banana, sometimes landlords create these rules out of frustrations that tenants place on them.
“Sometimes, tenants can become quite troublesome, and that's why you find landlords implementing such rules. However, when you look at these rules, it's often because one tenant has lacked courtesy and forgotten that wherever they are, they should conduct themselves with the utmost respect,” he says.
“There are times when you find a tenant engaging in unbecoming activities like changing girls each day, which to me is not acceptable. Even if you are paying rent, you should not engage in such behaviour. At the end of the day, there are some places that are designed for those specific behaviours," he shares.
A landlady at Sinza Makaburini, Karen Ruben shares that the most annoying tenants are college students.
“I then decided to put up a curfew on coming back home; they once led to some other tenants having their side mirrors stolen from their cars because they came and left at odd hours, she says.”
“So, I don’t think a property owner can have ridiculous rules because the tenants are the ones that force us into making these rules,” she adds.
Karen further added that sometimes you begin feeling like you're dealing with people who aren’t mature enough.
"They may pay their rents on time, but you can’t imagine how annoying they can be. Every day you see new faces that eventually, you begin to worry about the safety of both your property and that of the other tenants you have. It might be helpful to know some of their friends so that if anything goes wrong, you are able to hold them accountable,” she adds.
On the other hand, Baraka Oscar, who’s overseeing his parents’ properties at Goba shares that sometimes tenants change their souls from good landlords to seemingly soulless ones.
“My experiences with tenants have transformed me from a sympathetic young guy to someone who, unfortunately, has become quite hardened. Dealing with tenants who offer various excuses to avoid paying rent has been a common occurrence,” says Baraka.
“Claiming the need for funeral expenses due to the passing of a family member, asserting additional bereavement costs for another relative's passing. Staying in my house requires paying rent, plain and simple. Your financial problems are not my concern,” he shares.
The landlord-tenant arguments have become a never-ending series that has stayed on repeat.
While some obviously border on the extreme and are completely invasive, the common denominator is the agreement portion of these relationships.
Contracts are as binding as they are directive. If lease contracts are structured to factor in behavioural issues, as much as they focus on who a tenant is, what they are required to pay and when, a tenant is able to go into an agreement with clarity over what is expected of them.
At the end of the day, both of us need each other; tenants need a landlord, and landlords need tenants to survive; that is simply the food chain.