City Hall takes over buildings as it seeks to collect Sh28bn in land rates arrears

Thursday February 5 2015

Operation Clamp Down: Nairobi City County

Operation Clamp Down: Nairobi City County workers clamping down a building on Luthuli Avenue on February 5, 2015 after the owner failed to pay land rates. City Hall targets to collect Sh28 billion in land rate arrears. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAMUEL KARANJA
By SAMUEL KARANJA
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The Nairobi County government is targeting to collect Sh28 billion in land rate arrears owed to it by property owners.

Apart from taking over buildings within the central business district, City Hall has also spread its tentacles to properties located in the outskirts of the city, officials have said.

Deputy Chief Revenue Officer Shaban Asman said 100 buildings within the city would be taken over to recover rates owed to the county government.

“So far we have clamped down 13 buildings and we will collect rent from tenants until we recover our debt,” he said.

He was speaking Thursday during another operation where six properties became casualties of "Operation Clamp Down".

He said the operation would continue until all the defaulters pay up and urged property owners to pay up what they owe the county government.

Another enforcement official said he had served property owners in Thome estate with notices of debts running into millions with the intention of taking over their properties.

During Thursday’s operation, business was disrupted in the six affected buildings as the council officials took possession of them.

TENANTS PLEDGE TO PAY

Some tenants said they would pay the arrears on behalf of the property owners to avoid disruption and recoup the same later.

In a building on Luthuli Avenue said to be owned by a Mr James Gichuru, the debt owed to City Hall was Sh371,353 while in another, the county government is demanding Sh405,000.

Mr Asman, however, said should tenants decide to clear the debts on behalf of the building’s owner, they would get a 25 per cent waiver.

In November 2014, County Executive Committee Member for Finance Gregory Mwakanongo said the county had given owners of the building enough time.

He revealed that the more than 100 defaulters within the CBD owe City Hall Sh12 billion in debts.

Mr Mwakanongo said the tenants of the buildings will now have to pay City Hall rent until the county recovers its debt, according to the Ratings Act.

The county will also impose a 3 per cent interest on the defaulted amounts.

“Last year we gave property owners up to 90 per cent waivers on their accrued interest (and) we collected Sh780 million,” he said.

Mr Mwakanongo stressed that those who refused to pay even after the waiver expired were the ones being targeted.

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