1.By its ruling dated May 10, 2022, this court granted leave to the ex parte applicant to apply for orders of prohibition and certiorari within 21 days from May 10, 2022.
2.In compliance with the court order, the ex parte applicant filed the notice of motion application dated May 30, 2022 (the application) stated to be brought pursuant to the provisions of order 53 rule 3(1) of the Civil Procedure Rules, 2010. The application seeks for orders that:-a.The honorable court be pleased to grant the prerogative orders of prohibition and certiorari against the Rent Restriction Tribunal vide, Kakamega rent restriction tribunal cause No 1 of 2021.b.That costs be provided for.
3.The grounds upon which the application is based are shown on the face of the application namely that the ex-parte applicant is the landlady in respect of residential premises situate on land parcel No South Maragoli/lyaduywa/2165, the interested party was a tenant in the said residential premises paying a monthly rent of Ksh 15,000/= but was duly evicted in the month of December 2020 for being in arrears of Ksh 195,000/=, that aggrieved by the eviction the interested party filed a claim before the respondent tribunal being Kakamega rent restriction tribunal cause No1 of 2021, that the ex parte applicant responded to the claim by way of a notice of preliminary objection on the grounds that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the claim courtesy of section 2 (1) (c ) of the Rent Restriction Act which limits its jurisdiction to tenements whose monthly rent does not surpass the sum of Ksh 2,500/- That however, the tribunal declined to hear the notice of preliminary objection and proceeded to arrogate itself authority to determine the claim by the interested party effectively exercising powers it did not possess in law.
4.The interested party replied to the application for leave vide the replying affidavit sworn on March 15, 2022 but did not reply to the substantive application. The applicant (republic) entered appearance vide the memorandum of appearance dated April 28, 2022 but did not file any further documents/pleadings.
5.When the application came up for hearing on July 19, 2022, parties agreed by consent to have the application canvassed by way of written submissions to be filed and exchanged within seven (7) days from July 19, 2022.
6.Written submissions dated July 26, 2022 were filed on behalf of the ex parte applicant by the law firm of Chanzu Victor & Company Advocates. Counsel framed 4 issues for determination namely: - Whether the honourable court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter, whether the respondent had jurisdiction to entertain the claim, whether the respondent observed the rules of natural justice while handling the claim and whether the ex parte applicant is entitled to the relief sought.
8.On whether the respondent had jurisdiction to entertain the claim counsel submitted that section 2(1) of the Rent Restriction Act is clear that the Act shall apply to all dwelling houses other than dwelling houses which have a standard rent exceeding two thousand five hundred shilling per month furnished or unfurnished. Counsel also referred to regulation 11 of the regulations under section 36 of the Act which provides that the procedure to be followed by the tribunal is the procedure prescribed under the Civil Procedure Act so far as it practicable. Counsel submitted that where there is no evidence on record to show the existence of impartial hearing and subsequent orders on the matter of the preliminary objection dated May 27, 2021, the preliminary objection raised points of law which the respondent tribunal declined to give directions hence the court has jurisdiction to interpret the provisions of the Rent Tribunal Act and the constitution of Kenya among other laws in relation to the application. Counsel concluded on this issue that the respondent tribunal had no jurisdiction to issue orders on the basis of expunged claim pleadings or to decline to give direction on issues raised in the preliminary objection.
Issues for determination
11.From the pleadings filed and the submissions made, this court identifies the following as the issues for determination.a.Whether or not the judicial review proceedings are available to the ex parte applicant.b.Whether or not the ex parte applicant is entitled to the orders soughtc.Who pays the costs?
12.The jurisdiction of this court to entertain judicial review proceedings as a remedy available in law is anchored in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and other laws more specifically, the Environment and Land Court Act, the Civil Procedure Rules and the Fair Administrative Action Act. Article 165(3) (e) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that:Subject to clause 5, the High Court shall have any other jurisdiction, original or appellate conferred on it by legislation.”Article 165 (6) provides:Article 165(7) provides that:“For the purpose of clause (6) the High court may call for the record of any proceedings before any subordinate court or person, body or authority referred to in clause (6) and may make any order or give any direction it considers appropriate.”
13.The first issue for this court’s determination is whether the judicial review proceedings are available to the ex parte applicant. This issue arises from the interested party’s submission that the proper procedure for the ex parte applicant to have adopted would be to file an appeal if she was aggrieved by the decision of the tribunal and not judicial review. Appeals are concerned with the merits and demerits of a decision, while judicial review concerns itself with the decision- making process and not the private rights or merits of the decision being challenged. See case of Cortec Mining Kenya Limited v Cabinet Secretary Mining Ministry and 9 others  eKLR Court of Appeal at Nairobi. The ex parte applicant’s case was that the that the interested party, filed the suit against her at the Rent Restriction Tribunal at Kakamega pursuant to the provisions of the Rent Restriction Act. That in response to the suit, she had raised a preliminary objection on the grounds inter alia that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit. The ex parte applicant contends that the tribunal declined to hear the preliminary objection and instead proceeded to issue orders. She complains that this was wrongful and contrary to the rules of natural justice. That the tribunal proceeded to issue the orders while it had no jurisdiction in the matter to do so.The interested party on the other hand contends that the preliminary objection was dismissed because it did not raise points of law.There is no evidence on record to show that the preliminary objection was ever heard. What was placed before this court was the order issued by the tribunal dated February 11, 2022.
14.Jurisdiction is a threshold matter which a tribunal should investigate preliminarily so as to satisfy itself that it has the power to handle the matter. In the case of Owners and Masters of the Motor Vessels “Joey” v Owners and Masters of Motor Tugs Barbara” and “Steve B’ (2008) EA 367 the Court of Appeal held as follows;-
15.There is no evidence that the court inquired into the issue of jurisdiction or made any determination thereon. In Johakim Abayo v Mokua Damacline Nyamoita (2021) eKLR the ELC at Nairobi expressed itself on this matter as follows;-
17.The Rent Restriction Tribunal is a creation of the Rent Restriction Act. It is established under section 4 of the Act. The Act expressly outlines the extent of its application. In section 2 (1) the Act provides that:
18.It is clear that the tribunals jurisdiction is limited to dwelling house of a standard rent of Ksh 2,500/- The rent herein is Ksh 15,000/= This is obviously beyond he jurisdiction of the tribunal. There is no evidence that the tribunal endeavored to assess the rent.In Desai v Warsama (1967) EA 351 the court held that:-
19.Case law abound on the issue of jurisdiction of the Rent Restriction Tribunal. Where the rent is beyond Kshs 2500/= courts have held that the actions of the tribunal were beyond its jurisdiction. For instance in the case of Peter John Hayward v Sarah Wangui Ndungu (2019) eKLR where the subject rent was Ksh 25,000, the court held that the relationship between the landlord and the tenant was governed by the tenancy agreement and not the Act. In Republic v Deputy Chairman Rent Restriction in Tribunal, Butrus Juma (Interested Party) Ex Parte Joseph Kagwatha (2019) eKLR where the rent was Kshs 25,000/= and the court held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.From the provisions of the act and the cited authorities it is clear that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction in the current case where the standard rent was Kshs 15,000/=
21.I am satisfied that the tribunal not only acted ultra vires its powers but also failed to hear the issues raised in the preliminary objection in the first instance. I find that the judicial review application has merit and that the ex parte applicant is entitled to the orders sought. I allow the application as follows; -i.An order of judicial review in the form of certiorariis issued to bring into this court for purposes of quashing, all the proceedings and orders made by the Rent Restriction Tribunal in Kakamega rent restriction case No 1 of 2021.ii.An order of judicial review in the form of prohibition is hereby issued prohibiting the Rent Restriction Tribunal from proceeding with Kakamega rent restriction case No 1 of 2021.iii.Each party to bear own costs.