A disagreement over unpaid house rent turned ugly, when it found its way to Facebook, with a 34-year-old woman alleging that she and her yet-to-turn-one-month-old baby were – last Saturday – locked inside a powerless, waterless and foodless house for at least 24 hours.
Rahab Nyambura, a Kasarani resident, claims her landlord, Thomas Ratemo, locked their house – from the outside – with two padlocks because Rahab and her husband, Samuel Kinyumo, hadn’t paid house rent for December, January and February, which have, thus far, accumulated to Ksh36, 000.
Rahab, an online writer, says she and her electrician partner have been undergoing financial difficulties due to her deteriorating health, which has gobbled up their savings.
According to the couple, they had informed Mr Ratemo, in advance, that they would delay in paying their rent because of the challenges that they were facing.
According to them, Mr Ratemo allowed their request.
Rahab says she was, however, shocked to watch her house being locked from outside by the apartment’s caretaker, only identified as Mwanzia.
The “detention”, she says, lasted more than 24 hours.
“I had just arrived home from hospital, when I heard some commotions emanating from the living room. I went over to check. I found that the woman, who cleans my house, was pulled out of the room by the caretaker, who, thereafter, embarked on locking the door from the outside,” Rahab told EDAILY.
“I called my husband on phone, and told him that the caretaker had locked the door over unpaid rent arrears.”
Samuel Kinyumo says he, immediately, called the caretaker, who told him that he was acting on orders issued by his boss, Thomas Ratemo.
“I asked him to unlock the door, promising to offset the rent arrears the same day, but the caretaker refused to listen,” said Mr Kinyumo.
The father-of-one says he, thereafter, called his employer, who “owed him Ksh100, 000”, and asked him to send him his dues.
Mr Kinyumo’s employer wanted to write him a cheque, but the landlord refused, saying he won’t accept payment via cheque.
The electrician’s employer, thereafter, looked for the money and sent it to Mr Kinyumo, who claims he settled December and January arrears totaling to Ksh24, 000.
-‘LANDLORD WANTED FEBRUARY RENT’-
“I was shocked when the landlord said he still wanted to be paid Ksh12, 000 for the month of February, which we haven’t even lived through,” said Mr Kinyumo.
Mr Kinyumo says despite having settled the 2-month rent arrears, the landlord still refused to allow him access to the house.
“My wife is ailing, and, as a result, she could not breastfeed our baby, who is yet to turn one month old. She had to feed the baby on powdered milk, which requires clean water to mix. The taps in the house are dry, and we did not have any water stored in the house. Seeing that my wife and daughter were suffering, I reported the matter at Kasarani Police Station,” said Mr Kinyumo.
Mr Kinyumo’s wife, Ms Nyambura, claims when Mr Ratemo, the landlord, was informed that police were pursuing the matter, he [Mr Ratemo], went to her house and directed her to open the door by herself after passing a bunch of keys to her under the main door.
Ms Nyambura says she rebuffed his request.
Police say Mr Ratemo and Mr Mwanzia fled the scene, when they [police] arrived.
The law enforcement agents had to break down the main door to open up the house.
Mr Mwanzia confirmed to EDAILY that he acted on his boss’s instructions – and that he “did not know” that there were people inside the house.
-‘I DIDN’T LOCK MS KINYUMO AND HER DAUGHTER INSIDE HOUSE’ – LANDLORD-
When reached for comment, the landlord, Mr Ratemo, said he “hadn’t given any instructions to the caretaker to lock Ms Nyambura’s door”.
“I only told him [caretaker] to negotiate with them. Never did I give any orders that he locks them inside. He, maybe, did that in a bid to prompt them to offset their rent arrears,” said Mr Ratemo.
“I am a good person; and there is no way I would lock a mother and her newborn inside a house, [which is waterless, powerless and foodless]. I only came to know that that happened on Sunday, when police officers from Kasarani called and informed me that Mr Kinyumo had reported me to them,” added Mr Ratemo.
According to the property owner, Mr Kinyumo and Ms Nyambura “have been having problems paying their house rent in time”.
“There was a time he [Mr Kinyumo] hurled an insult at me – right in front of my son – for asking him to settle his rent arrears,” said Mr Ratemo.
The landlord says he reported to Kasarani police post that one of the units in his apartment had been broken into.
According to him, he was “unsure” whether the people, who opened up the door for Ms Nyambura were indeed police officers.
-‘MR AND MRS KINYUMO ARE GOOD PEOPLE’-
However, one of Ms Nyambura’s neighbours, counters Mr Ratemo’s claims, saying the mother-of-one and her husband are “good people”.
“They are good people. However, this is not the first time their house is being locked over rent dues,” said the neighbour, who sought anonymity.
“Nyambura’s husband was once barred from accessing his house at a time Nyambura was admitted in hospital,” said the neighbour.
The couple’s neighbour recounts the Saturday incident, saying she was “shocked” to learn that Ms Nyambura and her daughter had been locked inside the house for over 24 hours.
“I was heartbroken. I passed food to her through their bedroom window,” said the neighbour.
According to the informant, both Mr Ratemo and Mr Mwanzia “knew that Ms Nyambura and her baby were in the house, when they locked them in”.
-‘WE ARE ABLE TO SETTLE OUR HOUSE RENT’-
According to Mr Kinyumo, he is “extremely able” to afford the Ksh12, 000 per month house rent, only that his wife’s health problems, have been extremely eating into their finances.
“I have had to stay at home to take care of my ailing wife. This, of course, has had repercussions on our financial position,” said Mr Kinyumo.
-‘MY WIFE HAS A BRAIN TUMOR’ – KINYUMO-
Opening up on his wife’s ailment, Mr Kinyumo said: “She [Nyambura] has a brain tumor, which she has been treating for a while now. When she got pregnant, her condition worsened; the doctors told us that the more her pregnancy advanced, the more her tumor grew bigger; and, was, as a result, life-threatening to both the mother and child.”
Mr Kinyumo showed us medical reports and receipts, which were to the tune of tens of thousands.
Kasarani OCPD Robinson Mboloi confirmed that Mr and Mrs Kinyumo reported the incident at Kasarani Police Station, and that they are investigating the couple’s complaint.