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Covid-19: relief as Kisumu landlady waives rent

Wednesday May 6 2020

Mama Phelgona Atieno at Obunga slum in Kisumu County on May 5, 2020.

Mama Phelgona Atieno at Obunga slum in Kisumu County on May 5, 2020. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Over 30 tenants of a plot in the sprawling Obunga slum in Kisumu County woke up to a pleasant surprise on Monday after their landlady waived a portion of their rent for the next two months.

The relieved tenants, most of who have been pushed out of employment due to the coronavirus pandemic, will now pay rent less Sh1,000 for the months of May and June. They usually pay between Sh2,500 and Sh6,000.

Some of the worst-hit tenants have been excused from paying a penny in a separate agreement based on the landlady’s assessment.

The landlady, Mama Phelgona Atieno, promised to review the terms after two-months in the event the virus aftershocks persist or worsen.

"The pandemic has come with a lot of setbacks including unemployment. I saw it fit to give them waivers to cushion them," she said.

Ms Atieno, whose projected monthly rent collection is Sh60,000, will now have to forfeit up to 35 percent of her rental income.


Fondly referred to by her tenants as 'Governor', Ms Atieno says strained relationships can sometimes be costly in a landlord-tenant arrangement.

"We have co-existed in harmony before the pandemic period and this is the only way I can give back to the loyal tenants," she said.

She said she understood their plight as she is a victim of unemployment herself.

"I am a community development worker My organisation had us go on a forced leave starting March, it hasn't been easy for me," she said.

The elated tenants welcomed the move and said the two months’ waiver will go a long way.

"I deal in electronics and mobile phone repairs. Business has dipped immensely due to this pandemic. This waiver couldn't have come at a better time," said Robert Odinga, a tenant.

Mr Odinga called on other landlords to emulate the kind act to cushion tenants in slums who are facing hard times.

"We can only thank her, she has pulled us out of of our misery," said another tenant, Lilian Achieng'.