In Summary
  • They are always behind on payment with no good reason, some even become disrespectful. You cannot wait to let go of them, but think of the several “dry” months that await your house during the off peak season. When is it safe to let go of a tenant?

There are times when landlord - tenant relations hit rock bottom and its time to let go. However, before you take that drastic decision, think about where the next inhabitant of that property is going to come from. So, should one get stuck with that tenant that makes life difficult? Of course not, but it is important to part ways when you are sure of the next tenant.

When is the right time to let go?
Like in any other sector of the economy, the housing market also has its seasons. There is a season when people are moving from one house to another and seasons when people just stay put where they are because of different reasons.

Marx Niyonsaba, a property manager with Commercial Kampala property services limited, says: “October through December, people are shifting and want to make a change because the children are back for holidays and want to settle before the festive season starts. Added to that, tempers from either party, whether landlord or tenant have reached a tipping point and just waiting for the right time to say bye.”

He reasons that: “Moving in this period gives one ample time to prepare for the start of the year. Therefore, letting go of a tenant in this period is fine because you are assured of getting another tenant immediately.”
However, Musa Kakooza, a property agent in Kibuli, a Kampala suburb, has a different view.
“A landlord can let a tenant go anytime because there are people looking for houses throughout the year. Almost every day, we get calls from people asking us for houses to rent.”

He, however, advises that, if a tenant has some issues but has not been in your bad books, it is better to allow them finish off the year so that in the new year, you start with a fresh person.
Ivan Walunyolo, a property manager, agrees that moving has no specific time. “When the need to move on arises, you have to look for means of shifting because you can get a house that fits your taste and preference at any time.”

The tough season
Sandra Busingye, a tenant, says it is tricky to move immediately after the festive season, however, like in her case, sometimes, you have no choice but to move regardless of time.

Sharing her experience, Busingye, who was once forced out by a landlord, says: “It was in February 2014 and we were recovering from the festive season and from paying school fees. The land lady gave us a short notice of getting out of the house because she wanted to use her property.
“We didn’t get her decision at first because we had been paying promptly and had no rift with her. Since it was her property and you can’t argue with her, we had to look for another property but it wasn’t an experience I would wish for anyone.”

It was a stressful time for Busingye and the family.
“We contacted brokers left and right but we couldn’t find a decent family home and we ended up settling for an apartment that wasn’t up to standard.”
Since their children were at school, they did not want to disorganise them so they settled for the apartment. Luckily, by end of the term, they had found a better house but on the other side of town.

This meant two of the older children had to join boarding school. The younger one also had to change school.
And indeed, Walusimbi Ssempala a private property broker plying his trade in Rubaga agrees that post festive season is not a great time to let go of tenants, or for a tenant to move.
“It’s a bad time to let go of tenants unless it is inevitable. During this period, people are recovering from the festive season and getting ready for the new school year, moving is the least of their concerns.”

The mid-year also comes with its dynamics. For tenants with families, the mid-year may not be ideal to move.
Grace Mwijustya, a mother of two and a resident of Kireka, says: “In this era where you have to pick and drop children from school, moving in the middle of the year may be a big mistake because you have to pan out a new system of getting the children to school. That translates into change in time of waking up, getting out of the house and all other things involved.”

Pushed to the limit
However, Christine Mitara, a landlady in Kyetume Mukono District notes: “The houses are a business so there is a limit to what I can tolerate. If a tenant is giving me headache then I serve them with an eviction notice as per the agreement no matter the time of the year.”
Majidu Kazibwe, a landlord in Seguku along Entebbe road says: “Anytime you can let a tenant go but what is most important is to give the person his three months period to allow them and you the owner, to prepare for the next move.”

Multiple factors
Tenants moving also determined by several factors. Allan Tumwine and Ismail Keza, tenants in Nansana and Kitende, Wakiso District, hinge their decision on income.
“Moving largely depends on my income. For instance, if the landlord increases the rent fees and I feel I can’t afford it or its not value for my money, I have to shift no matter what time of the year.”

Justin Komugisha a tenant in Kamwokya a city suburb has a different opinion, “It’s better to move in January because people are desperate for money and you can negotiate to pay less months other than the initial three months they normally ask for or even ask for a discount.”
From our research, moving is not pinned to a specific time of the year. However, some months may have heavy traffic compared to others.

Short term contracts

Putting away the headache that comes with tenants overstaying, one can target shortterm tenants. There are people who walk into an area for short periods of time either for leisure or work but dont intend to stay for long. Susan Kyarimpa, a property owner says:“The advantage with this type of tenants is that they pay more money compared to long term tenants and one thing you are sure of is leaving your property intact.”