The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Katiba Institute, on April 11, 2024, filed a case to halt unlawful housing levy deductions towards the so-called "affordable housing project".

Kenyan MPs had, on February 21, 2024, approved the Affordable Housing Act of 2024, which allowed the government to deduct 1.5 per cent of employees' monthly gross salary and similar amounts from employers for the houses, a project marred by controversies and coercion.

However, unlike MPs, the Senators didn't give people enough chance to share their opinions before this law was passed.

The lawsuit argues that because people weren't given adequate say in the Senate in making this law, it goes against the Constitution. So, the law itself is unconstitutional. 

President William Ruto approved the law on March 19, 2024, despite this.

How it started

This legal action began because of a law passed in 2023 called the Finance Act. This law made workers and their bosses pay a housing levy even if they weren't guaranteed a house.

Civil society groups, including KHRC, went to court to challenge how this law was made and how the housing levy was collected. 

On November 28, 2023, the court ruled that the housing levy was unfair and against the Constitution because only formal workers had to pay, leaving out informal workers.

Finance Act of 2023 Case

In response, MPs quickly passed a new law in 2024, the Affordable Housing Act, to fix the problems with the 2023 law and keep collecting the housing levy.

Current situation

The new law still doesn't say how unemployed people should pay the housing levy. It only says that formal workers must pay, leaving out informal workers.

Treating people differently like this is seen as unfair and goes against the Constitution, according to the legal action. 

Despite being called "affordable housing," the law doesn't really make housing cheaper. It helps wealthy people buy houses while forcing poor people to pay for them, even though they might remain homeless.

Apart from seeking to stop more housing levy deductions, KHRC and Katiba Institute want the court to compel the government to give back the money they already took from employers and employees.

Read the petition here.

  • Ernest Cornel

    Ernest Cornel is a seasoned journalist and strategic communications specialist with a rich background in the newsroom. Cornel is also a documentary producer. He has worked with human rights organizations and contributed his expertise to a grant-making institution. He has designed and led successful campaigns and implemented digital strategies to halt human rights abuses.