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Shock as Kenyan woman, Anne Kihagi-Swain, is fined $2.4M by US court

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A Kenyan landlady who has been described as notorious by the media , Anne Kihagi, who was sued by the SF city attorney two years ago after numerous reports about her shady eviction tactics and unfair treatment of tenants, has been ordered to pay $2.4 million and has also been sentenced to five days in jail for violating provisions of the Ellis Act at one of her properties in West Hollywood.

 

The news was received with shock among Kenyans.

“A Kenyan woman has been fined US$2.4 million (Sh247.5 million) by an American court for being an abusive landlord,” reported a Kenya paper.

Ms Anne Kihagi has been accused of harassing 23 tenants and wrongfully evicting 10 others by using unconventional methods to frustrate among them the elderly and a cancer patient.

Ms Kihagi, a landlord with a portfolio of property worth $24 million (Sh2.5 billion) was also sentenced to five days in a San Francisco jail for violating the housing law.

This is after a two-year bruising court battle with her tenants who have christened her the “notorious landlord”.

In fact, Ms Kihagi may end up being fined up to $4 million (Sh412.5 million) since the judge also ruled

Anne Kihagi

that she must foot the costs incurred during the case.

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Ms Kihagi’s run-ins with her tenants began two years ago when they complained of harassment and uncouth tactics that their landlord used to evict them so she could renovate the building and rent it out at a higher price.

VERBAL AB– USE

According to a report by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the tactics used by Ms Kihagi included: “Fraud, harassment, threats, intimidation, verbal abuse, interrupting gas, electric, water and cable service, failing to cash rent cheques, only to late claim them as untimely rent payment and violating tenants’ privacy by entering their apartments without required notice”.

The tenants also accused Ms Kihagi of installing video surveillance cameras aimed at their front doors.

Ms Kihagi has since garnered a reputation for being a horrible landlord, with Mr Herrera saying, “I’ve gone after a lot of lawless landlords in my time, but Anne Kihagi has a special place reserved for her in San Francisco’s abusive landlord ‘hall of fame’. Her cruelty is stunning.”

In her ruling, Judge Angela Bradstreet noted that Ms Kihagi’s behaviour had serious effects on the lives of several citizens of San Francisco, to the point that one former tenant had to quit her job and move out of the state. In another case, Ms Kihagi forced a tenant suffering from cancer out of his home.

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The court case was under investigation for two years and the ruling attracted a lot of media coverage from San Francisco press.

The US based media have reported that Ms Kihagi irked her tenants so much that some housing rights activists took to the streets to protest against her.

BUSINESS MODEL

US newspapers have reported that Ms Kihagi began buying property in June 2013 in Noe Valley, the Mission and North Beach and the Castro, making her the owner of over 50 units in San Francisco.

It is also reported that Ms Kihagi is working closely with two business associates, Julia Mwangi and Christine Mwangi, known as “The Mwangi sisters” who were jointly sued by the tenants. She also has property in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

Her business model involves buying buildings with long-term, “rent-controlled tenants paying below-market rents and then using a wide range of methods, both legal and illegal, to get rid of the tenants,” a San Francisco newspaper reported.

Once she pushes out the tenants, Ms Kihagi allegedly makes unpermitted improvements in the buildings after which she rents them at a higher price.

Ms Kihagi, who is being represented by her lawyer Karen Uchiyama, blames the case on a tenant activists group that wanted to “make a scapegoat of Anne Kihagi”.

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The lawyer further accused the court of scaring landlords from evicting tenants. The lawyer maintained that Ms Kihagi acted within the law even in evicting the tenants. Meanwhile, Ms Kihagi is appealing the ruling.

-Nairobi news

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Diaspora

No Quarantine for Passengers Flying to Kenya, Government says

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Transport CS James Macharia, on Wednesday, July 8, announced that passengers arriving in Kenya from other countries would not be forced to quarantine if they did not exhibit flu symptoms.

“All passengers shall be exempt from quarantine on arrival at their destinations if their body temperature is not above 37.5 degrees celsius and they do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing and other flu-like symptoms.

“This is important because we do not expect a tourist to come from wherever they land here and then they are quarantined for 14 days,” the CS explained.

Speaking during a press briefing at Transcom House in Nairobi, CS Macharia revealed that the new protocols were aimed at encouraging tourism, one of the hardest-hit industries following the pandemic.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
DAILY NATION

In addition, the CS explained that airline crew and passengers would be allowed to the airports and that all crew would be exempted from quarantine after a flight, if their body temperatures were below 37 degrees, and if there was no suspected Covid-19 case in the flight.

However, the crew is expected to be quarantined in case of a suspected case from the flight.

Passengers flying into the country will be allowed to be dropped and picked at the various airports past curfew hours, provided that they are able to present a boarding pass.

READ ALSO:   Jomo Kenyatta: I 'll continue fighting for my people for as long as I live [VIDEO]

With the resumption of air transport slated for July 15, 2020, as per President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive, CS Macharia revealed that only 5 airlines had so far confirmed that they would be operational.

The five were identified as Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Aim Air, Boskovic Air, and Scenic Safaris.

In case of a suspected case of COVID-19 on a flight, CS Macharia revealed that the passengers within two rows of the passenger with the symptoms would be tested. If their results turned out to be negative, they would be then allowed to leave the airport, however, the reverse would result in the passengers being quarantined in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.”

Watch CS Macharia’s briefing below:

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Kenyan students in the US to lose visas if their classes move online

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Kenyan students in the United States may soon be forced to return home if their colleges or universities opt for online learning only, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In a statement on Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas who attend universities that operate entirely online amid the Covid-19 pandemic may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

FULL ONLINE COURSES

“Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” said ICE.

The agency added that F-1 students who attend schools that provide a mixture of online and in-person classes will be permitted to take some online courses.

According to ICE, the schools must certify to the Student Exchange Visitor Program “that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree.”

F-1 students whose universities will maintain full in-person classes will remain bound by federal laws that allow a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

READ ALSO:   Jomo Kenyatta: I 'll continue fighting for my people for as long as I live [VIDEO]

“Students who remain in the United States while taking only online courses could face immigration consequences, including the initiation of removal proceedings,” ICE said.

Last year, the number of Kenyans enrolled in US higher-education institutions rose by nearly four per cent, reaching a total of 3,451 students, according to a 2019 study published by a State Department Bureau and Institute of International Education, a New York-based NGO.

Africans overall account for 40,000 of the 1,095,000 international students in the US.

The updated guidance comes as schools in the US consider reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, while imposing restrictions on students’ return that will force some students to stay off-campus and learn remotely for entire semesters at a time.

The ICE announcement comes at a time when the US leads the world in coronavirus caseload. More than 2.9 million Americans have contracted Covid-19 with 130,000 deaths reported.

By Nairobi News

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Family of Kenyan man in US accused of rape by Uber customer seeks help

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A 24-year-old Kenyan in the United States who has been accused of rape is looking for financial support to secure freedom.

The family of Kennedy Wambua Masila who resides in Corona, California is raising funds for their kin who has been held in jail since June 10, 2020, on allegations of rape.

According to the family, Mr Musila, who had just recently migrated to the US from Kenya, is a college student and was working as an Uber driver to make ends meet.

The family in a GoFundMe page, says that on the fateful night, he received a request from the Uber app to pick up a passenger. He then picked her up and dropped her off at her destination.

The woman later called the police and said that he had raped her. He was subsequently arrested and has been held in jail in lieu of Sh2 million ($20,000) bail.

“Ken drove to the pickup location where he picked up a lady who seemed to be intoxicated. Just like he always did, he drove his passenger to her destination and dropped her off. Ken has assured us that during this trip nothing happened and that it was just one of the many trips he had completed that day. He was later arrested on the aforementioned accusation,” says Dr Fastac Mutua, who is organising the fundraiser to raise the bail amount and an additional Sh1.2 million ($12,500) in legal fees.

READ ALSO:   Homeless Kenyan woman who was a nurse in US appeals for help

According to Dr Mutua, Musila was barely getting settled in the United States and was working two jobs to support his family and also going to school to secure a promising future for himself.

“He has been falsely accused and his promising future put in jeopardy,” says Kennedy’s family,” he adds.

Please donate here: GoFundMe.com

-Nairobi news

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