- Any buyer, tenant, should be privy to all the information that deals with their health and safety at the click of a button.
- Real estate agents should share the necessary pages which has all these and more relevant information.
The deadly gas explosion in Embakasi that has so far killed seven people and injured around 300 got me thinking, could our property purchase and renting style be influencing careless national development? Also, are we letting developers have it easy, and what can the government do?
We invest a lot of our time, energy, emotions and resources to purchase or rent properties in Kenya. In most cases you will either email, text or call an established real estate agency, or just call a preferred or referred local businessman or woman running a solo real estate agency. Other ways of getting a house would be coming across an agent or the owner's number put up on a board typically on the gate of the house or apartment to be let.
Once one gets in touch with their preferred agent, all you need to do is agree on a preferred date and time. With the advent of WhatsApp, you will likely receive images of the property beforehand. The location and cost of the property will be revealed to you at this stage as well, and this is the point at which the buyer or tenant might decide to go for the staging of the house or not. Sellers or landlords at this point will try to make the property as as alluring as possible.
Are the images and amenities good enough though? Agreed, schools, colleges, restaurants, hospitals, shopping malls, entertainment centres and sports clubs, among other things, are crucial to know, but are the other important issues? Does buyer or potential tenant ever get to ask about the overall safety of the neighbourhood? This is the catch, and they must persuade you properly. It is also the government's role to push counties to frequently make public updated Environmental Impact Assessment results of the areas where we live with our families.
Be it the air quality, industries, gas stations, agriculture and farming activities that take place and the level of chemicals like pesticides used in the area as a result. Any quarries that can expose homes to long-term cracks and eventual damage; dangerous domestic and wild animals in the areas and having the respective owners of domestic animals and park representatives be responsible for any harm or damage.
Noise pollution from bars, churches and mosques and extreme religious practices, like overnight praise and worship, better known as 'kesha', must also be regulated. Any unsafe open water bodies or construction sites should be exposed on this same ‘caution’ cite, especially for the sake of any innocent children moving into the area. Such efforts will also work towards achieving SDG 3, good health and wellbeing for all Kenyans.
Looking back at the Embakasi gas incident, people unknowingly or knowingly rented and purchased properties near an ‘illegal’ gas depot. It is reported that a few people mentioned to have earlier felt the obvious gas smell. Social media at some point also had leaked messages of people who attempted to report the gas depot and the gas smell, but nothing seems to have ever been done, up until the unfortunate incident. If these tenants or buyers knew such information before hand, then they would make better decisions on whether to settle there or not.
Any buyer, tenant, should be privy to all the information that deals with their health and safety at the click of a button. Real estate agents should share the necessary pages which has all these and more relevant information.
The writer is a communications researcher and scholar, currently pursuing Peace and Development Work Studies in Sweden, [email protected]