Sample Article Review Paper on Rent Restriction Tribunals

Rent restriction tribunals are established by Section 4 of the Rent Restriction Act, Cap 296.
The section empowers the Minister (read Cabinet Secretary) to establish Rent Tribunals
through a gazette notice. 1 Each Rent Tribunal, as and when it is established, shall consist of a
Chairman and/or Deputy Chairman, and a panel of members.
The mandate of rent tribunals is to mitigate conflict between landlords and tenants. This
includes investigating complaints by both tenants and landlords 2 , and assessing the standard
rent of any premise 3 . Other powers of rent restriction tribunals include fixing dates upon
which rent is payable, apportioning payment of rent among tenants, fixing the value of
incidental charges, make orders for the recovery of possession and rent as well as repairs, and
appointing inspectors for the purposes of carrying out the mandate of the Act. 4
Section 30 of the Rent Restriction Act establishes the jurisdiction of rent tribunals by stating:
“In and for the exercise of the powers conferred upon it by this Act, a tribunal
shall have the same jurisdiction and powers in civil matters as are conferred upon the
High Court, and in particular (but without prejudice to the generality of the
foregoing) shall have power-
(a) to administer oaths, and to order persons to attend and give evidence or to
produce and give discovery and inspection of documents, in the same manner as in
proceedings in the High Court, and for that purpose to authorize the chairman to
issue summonses to compel the attendance of persons before it; and
(b) upon the determination of any application or other proceeding, in its discretion, to
order any party thereto to pay the whole or any part of the costs thereof, and either
itself to fix the amount of those costs or to direct taxation thereof by the taxing officer
of the High Court, either on the High Court scale or on the subordinate court scale.”

1 Rent Restriction Act, S.4
2 Ibid, S.6
3 Ibid, S.5
4 Ibid.

This therefore means that the Rent Restriction tribunal shall have the same jurisdiction as the
High Court in all matters stated under Section 5 of the Act. The decisions of the Tribunal are
final. However, appeals from the tribunal in certain instances still lie to the High Court. 5
Section 2 limits the jurisdiction of the tribunals in respect of dwelling houses with a standard
rent exceeding Ksh.2500. In Fatma Sufi v. Rama Mazera & 4 Others 6 , the court stated that
the Tribunal is a creature of statute whose jurisdiction is specifically conferred by statue. It
should be noted that the Tribunal has the power to determine what the standard rent of any
premise is as per Section 5 of the Act. However, this does not empower it to restate what
standard rent is for the purposes of imposing jurisdiction. . In Republic v. The Chairman
Rent Restriction Tribunal & Another Ex Parte Ezekiel Machogu & 3 Others, 7 Justice
Majanja reiterated that the tribunal cannot appropriate jurisdiction to investigate rent where
the agreed rent between landlord and tenant exceeds the amount stated in the Act.

Parties aggrieved by the Tribunal’s decisions must appeal to the Tribunal itself as provided
by Section 5(m) of the Act. This is in line with the requirements of the Fair Administration
Act, which requires courts to refrain from reviewing administrative decisions until statutory
mechanisms have been exhausted. This was stated in The Registered Trustees, Kenya
Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme v. The Chairman, Rent Restriction Tribunal
(2018) 8 .
Section 8(1) of the Act states that the Tribunal’s decisions are final and no appeal may be
entertained in any court. However, appeals may be lodged with the High Court in the
following instances:
 In the case of an order under Section 6(5), which gives the Tribunal discretionary
power to make orders as the justice in each case may require; or
 On any point of law; or
 On any point of mixed fact and law in the case of premises whose standard rent
exceeds one thousand shillings a month.

5 See S.8(1)&(2), Rent Restriction Act
6 Misc. Civil Application no. 75 of 2016 (JR)
7 [2013] eKLR
8 ELC Judicial Review Application no 19 of 2018