There is almost always a weird dynamic between landlord and tenant. Like there is a bomb under the veneer of polite conversation and nervous smiling that could detonate at the slightest provocation. Just like you need to learn about the types of neighbors to know how to interact with everyone, you should also try to figure out your type of landlord. This will ensure you know just how much of yourself to be when dealing with them. Below are 8 types of landlords you will encounter in Nairobi. If you get around enough you might encounter all.
This is the kind that adopts the tenants as part of their families. You will be invited to get-togethers. You will be coaxed to join the family for lunch and/or dinner. They will visit often just to check on you and say hi. Your conversations will rarely ever be about your status as a tenant or about your rental. This is common if you live in an extension or if there are only a few tenants. In most cases, if you live in one place for a long time the landlord might gradually turn into this from whatever type they were before. If you are bothered by the intrusion into your life then pull away as much as possible. Politely decline those invitations. Masterfully discourage conversation beyond a greeting.
You rarely ever see this person. In fact very few people in the building know what the landlord looks like. If he does show up he only stays long enough to inspect the caretaker’s facade. So yes, you have guessed it, the caretaker is in charge. If the caretaker is one of those terrible people everyone in the building will be under their thumb. Often the only way to thrive in this kind of situation would be to bribe the caretaker into being a friend. If you want your repairs done, you will have to bribe the caretaker. However, you do not have to put up with walls that could crumble around you at any time. Go ahead and move. Make sure not to leave until your deposit has been refunded or used in full though.
Fave Uncle/ Aunty
This landlord always has something for everyone when he or she comes around. Often this landlord lives on a big piece of land on the slopes of somewhere where the land is covered in all sorts of crops. They drive a beat up pick up and have an upcountry accent. They venture into Nairobi to check on their city investments and maybe have nyama choma with old friends. They always bring things like maize and avocado with them for the tenants. They are good at organizing activities for the tenants where people hang out and enjoy themselves. They may keep a unit at the building for when they come around.
This used to be something that only ladies would understand but not anymore. They are always being suggestive and even in some cases attempt to grope when they visit to ‘inspect’ your unit. They never ‘inspect’ during the day. Sometimes when they are drunk they will knock on your door and let their intentions known. Landladies are more subtle in their advances though. If you are not enjoying these advances then communicate your displeasure or move. Even then, there is no guarantee this person will leave you alone.
Every time this landlord comes around there is noise. They are always bickering and bringing up issues about everything. They pick on everything and everyone. All the tenants dread having this kind of landlord come around. Things will be worse when you need something fixed. They will remind you of the one time months ago you paid your rent a day late. This landlord will be wildly and deeply disliked by everyone including he one person whose salary he pays. Stay out of his way. If he decides to pick on you do not let him. He/she should know that you cannot be pushed around. If it gets a little too much then find another place to live. They do not hold the monopoly on rentals in Nairobi. Again, do not leave without your deposit.
Number 5 and 6 are in the same ‘wozzap’ group. This is to say that they are basically the same. In some cases they are the same person. In most cases the rent is required by the 5th of every month. As soon as the clock hits 1400 hours on the 5th they will start blowing up your phone with messages and calls. It does not matter if you are at that exact moment in a queue at the bank or in a coma, which would be a pretty good excuse. They want their money. Pay your rent on time or communicate in advance with a good reason.
Imagine a lady setting the mood with good food and sensual music. She’s preparing her lamb before she latches on the neck. Then comes a knock on the door, the landlord wants to inspect the building for structural damage right then. They do not ask, they demand. It is inconvenient. It is intrusive. Inspections should be scheduled. Some may not mind but if you are in the aforedescribed situation you will certainly mind. The first time this happens, let the landlord know that they should come back at a more convenient time and to call ahead. It may be their building but you pay your rent.
This landlord is always hanging around. They are always walking the halls. They do not really do anything. They just want to walk around the building doing nothing, picking up the occasional stray piece of paper. They will readily accept invitations to lunch by the nosy or gossip tenants. The busy bee is usually a retiree whose circadian rhythm has not caught up with the news. In most cases, this kind of landlord will have an affair with one of the tenants or someone’s wife in the building. It is only a matter of time before the tea spills. Be polite and be on your way, do not mind him.
Your landlord should not make you uncomfortable in a house you rent. Happy renting!