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The Parliament of Kenya has annulled the law  imposing a Sh1 million ($9,970) fine or one-year jail term for property developers and home owners who fail to install solar water heating systems in their buildings.

Home owners and property developers were given until May 25, 2017 to comply with the new regulation or face the penalty.

However, the Members of Parliament said the penalties, introduced by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), would increase costs for landlords and tenants and undermine access to affordable housing.

According to the Daily Nation, national assembly’s committee on delegated legislation threw out the ERC rules on grounds that the Sh1 million fine contravenes the section of the Statutory Instruments Act (SI Act) that limits fines payable under the Act to a maximum of Sh20,000 ($199) or a prison term not exceeding six months in default.

Furthermore, parliamentarians said the rules are in contravention of the law that prevents imposition of a fine, imprisonment or other penalty without express authority provided for in the enabling legislation.

The national assembly’s committee on energy said the enabling legislation, the Energy Act 2006, does not grant authority to levy fines through the regulations.

“The committee recommends that pursuant to Standing Order 210 (4)(b) and Section 15(1) of the SI Act, the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 be annulled in entirety for the aforementioned reasons,” Gladys Shollei, who chairs the committee, said in a report that was tabled in Parliament.

Solar water heating systems

The ERC first published the regulations in 2012 requiring that buildings with hot water demand exceeding 100 litres per day install solar water heating systems to cater for at least 60% of the demand. Read more: Final deadline for solar water heating systems installations

The regulations required owners of new buildings to comply at the time of publishing of the notice while existing buildings had a grace period of five years to do so. The grace period expired in May 2017.