A landlord who set fire to the room of a tenant following a disagreement over an increase in rent is in the grips of the law.The landlord, Mr James Quaye, who is also a transport operator at Awoshie, was alleged to have set fire to the room of one of his tenants, Mr Mensah Badu, 73, in the early hours of Friday, February 8, 2008 because the tenant had argued with him over an increase in rent from GH¢15 to GH¢20, for a single room that he rented at Awoshie-Baah Yard, a suburb of Accra.
The fire destroyed a bed, chairs, clothing, books and other personal belongings of the tenant.According to other tenants in the house, Mr Quaye, who lives some few metres away, had gone to the house earlier in the evening to announce the increase in rent.
The victim, who was then in his room, came out on hearing the voice of the landlord in the compound and on seeing him, Mr Quaye was said to have drawn closer to him to announce the increase in rent.
Seeing that the landlord was shouting, Mr Badu asked him to calm down and call a meeting the following morning.
That seemed to have infuriated Mr Quaye, who left the scene but soon went back with a stick and, in the full glare of the other tenants, beat up Mr Badu.
The victim, who stays alone, was said to have managed to get out of his way, locked his door and went to inform his son about the situation.
But on his return at midnight with his son, they were greeted with fumes of smoke coming out of Mr Badu's room.
According to one of the tenants, who was an eyewitness, after beating up Mr Badu, the landlord went away and returned some few minutes later and was seen trying to forcibly open the door to Mr Badu's room.
The eyewitness said when he was not successful, the landlord forcibly entered another tenant's room from where he took a pestle with which he broke the door to Mr Badu's room and then left the house.
He said the tenants retired to bed around 11.30 p.m. and some few minutes later they heard the sound of stones being thrown onto the roof of the house, which forced them to come out and that was when they realised there was fire in the room of Mr Badu.
According to the eyewitness, the stones were thrown on the roof by some neighbours who said they had seen the landlord set fire to the room but because they could not shout for fear of being noticed, they decided to throw the stones on the roof to alert the other tenants.
The co-tenants put out the fire and went back to sleep, after which Mr Badu arrived with his son, but left again because he could not sleep in the room.
The eyewitness said around 4 a.m., they heard shouts of fire from one of the tenants who had woken up, only to realise that Mr Badu's room was again on fire, supposedly started from another side of the room.
According to the tenants, the incident was not the first to have happened in the house. They claimed that in October 2006, a similar incident occurred when the landlord's attempt to increase the rent was resisted by a lady in the house.
The tenants said the next day all personal belongings of the lady got burnt under mysterious circumstances.
When the police were contacted, they confirmed the incident but said it was under investigations.
Story by Rebecca Quaicoe Duho