High rents push tenants out of houses
Posted Monday, April 30 2012 at 14:25
Landlords in Kiambu County are mourning the loss of tenants and the completion of the Thika super highway.
High rents are emptying houses and the near completion of the highway has encouraged those who had rented apartments far from the road to make a comeback.
Tenants, especially in Githurai, Kahawa Sukari, and Ruiru estates had fled the notorious morning and evening jams and the dust storms caused by earth movers constructing the highway.
The ballooning middle class, which prefers to build or buy its own homes, has not made matters any better for investors in real estate.
An area that 10 years ago was an agricultural zone with lush coffee and tea plantations, Kiambu has undergone a transformation. The area is now dotted with buildings.
Many vacant houses
However, the growth of the housing business, which has exploded in the past few years, seems to be slowing down as vacant houses linger on the market.
Mr Mungai Muhoho, who has been in the industry for over a decade, has rental flats in Kiambu town and Kirigiti in the outskirts of the town.
He blamed the opening of Thika Road for some of his empty apartments, saying most of the tenants who had come from Thika Road were now going back.
“There was an influx of tenants from Thika Road. When the construction started, they came here in large numbers because there were no traffic jams and the demand for rental houses shot up,” he said, adding that some of them have bought houses or acquired plots and constructed their own homes in various areas surrounding Nairobi, leaving rental houses unoccupied.
Rising rents, especially by the new real estate investors, is also a concern as those who cannot afford look for accommodation elsewhere.
Mr John Mwaniki, a director at Jekmas Services, a real estate and property management company with interests in Kiambu and Nairobi, said high rents are driving tenants out of Kiambu.
He cited Ruaka, where rents have doubled due to high demand, with investors rushing in to build more houses.
“Three years back, a two bedroom house in Ruaka was going for Sh8,000, but due to a high demand, landlords increased it to Sh16,000. Tenants are now looking for cheaper houses in the interior,” he said.
Although new houses are still coming up, tenants are fleeing, Mr Mwaniki said, adding that landlords may soon have to stop construction or be prepared to content with empty flats.
It is impossible to get a one-bedroom house in Kiambu for less than Sh8,000. Some flats go for Sh10,000, depending on style and location.
Before the boom, there were few houses and single rooms were rented for between Sh1,200-2,000, a double room for between Sh3,000 and Sh4,000, while self contained houses went for Sh5,000.
Today, a single roomed goes for Sh4,000, a double room Sh5,000 and above, while a self-contained house goes for Sh8,000 and above, depending on proximity to the road.