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TOUGH TIMES

Rent pains push Kenyans to share houses, split bills

People moving from costly houses to cheaper units

In Summary

• Athi River, Ruiru, Juja, Kiambu and Thika among areas city dwellers are migrating to.

•Kenya National Bureau of Statistics recent survey indicated nearly 70 per cent of households have had difficulties in paying their rent as effects of Covid-19 take a toll on the economy.

Aerial view of overpopulated Umoja estate in Eastlands, Nairobi. /FILE
Aerial view of overpopulated Umoja estate in Eastlands, Nairobi. /FILE

Arrangements to share houses and bills is the latest trend in the country’s real estate sector, as households bear the brunt of Covid-19 on the economy.

Massive job losses, salary cuts, and lack of income has made it difficult for a sizable number of city dwellers to meet their rent obligations, industry players say, forcing them to split costs.

“People are opting to move in together and split the cost of the rent. If a house costs Sh20,000 each pays Sh10,000 and the rest goes to other uses. This is the latest trend,” real estate firm-Myspace Properties CEO Mwenda Thuranira explained.

 

According to Thuranira, the trend is cutting across all segments of the market, from high-end apartments in Kilimani, Parklands, and Westlands, to estate flats and residential areas such as Ruaka, Kahawa, Roysambu and Buru Buru.

A recent survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), released by Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, indicated nearly 70 per cent of households have had difficulties in paying their rent as effects of Covid-19 take a toll on the economy.

The Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) has noted a shift from the city to satellite towns, as individuals seek cheaper housing options.

“People are moving out of Nairobi. There is a lot of movement to Athi River, Ruiru, Juja, Kiambu, and as far as Thika. These areas have an upsurge on-demand,” KPDA chairman Gikonyo Gitonga said.

*Peter, a Roysambu resident, says he has been forced to move in with two of his friends after losing his job.

“I can't afford to pay rent so my boys have given me an option, I move in with them and try to be meeting small expenses like food,” he said.

In a conversation with the Star, Bernard Kamau, a pick-up owner in the transport business noted increased movement and booming business for movers.

 

“There is a lot of movement both within estates and to other estates within the city. I can’t complain, business is good,” Kamau said.

In a move to live within their disposable income, a number of tenants have sought reductions on rent, with industry players putting average market cuts at between 10-20 per cent.

An apartment in Westlands for instance has cut rent from Sh75,ooo a month to Sh60,000 for the next five months.

According to the KNBS survey, about 37 per cent of those who defaulted were unable to pay rent while 23 per cent paid partially.

Another 8.5 per cent were hopeful of meeting the landlord’s obligations, reflecting the impact of restrictions to curb the global Covid-19 pandemic on workers’ incomes.