Nairobi County residents pay the highest rents in the country, followed by Mombasa and Kiambu, according to the latest Kenya National Housing report released on Monday by the Lands and Urban Planning Ministry.
The capital city has the most expensive neighbourhoods and houses there fetch the highest value in the rental market. According to the report, there are 58,248 houses whose rent is above Sh20,000 a month. Three quarters of these are in Nairobi while 7,009 (or 12 per cent) are in the neighbouring Kiambu County.
Mombasa County is home to seven per cent of the most expensive rental homes while Uasin Gishu — whose largest town is Eldoret — is home to one per cent of the most expensive homes countrywide, followed by Lamu, Kericho, Kakamega and Isiolo.
The report also indicated that Nairobi, Mombasa and Kiambu had the highest median monthly incomes of Sh16,000, Sh11,500 and Sh11,000 respectively while Busia and West Pokot counties had the lowest at Sh3,000 and Sh2,000 respectively.
According to the survey, Kenyans spend about 44 per cent of their incomes on rent and related costs, including paying for water, sewerage, electricity and related costs.
The national median income for a household stood at Sh7,000 while housing expenditure was Sh6,000 and household savings a paltry Sh2,000, meaning that high costs of living were depressing savings.
Bomet, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties had the largest households with average sizes of 5.7, 5.6 and 5.3 members respectively while Kirinyaga, Kiambu and Nairobi recorded low sizes of 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 members.
The survey indicated that expenditure and income in male-headed households was higher than female-headed ones. Household incomes in male-headed households increased with age, with the highest income among male-headed households being experienced by men between the ages of 41 and 50. The survey also indicated that there were no major differences in earnings among women of different ages while men’s earnings increased with age.
Expenditure was higher among male-headed households compared to female-headed ones.
Tharaka Nithi had the highest number of households headed by someone in employment, with 96.6 per cent of household heads being employed in some economic activity. In Turkana, 64 per cent of bread winners were gainfully employed, the lowest in the country. Nationally 86 per cent of family heads were employed.
According to the report, the high cost of land and building materials had hindered development of housing countrywide.
About 20 per cent of professionals interviewed during the Kenya National Housing 2012/2013 Survey said high cost of building materials was a hindrance, while 18 per cent cited high cost of land.
Fifteen per cent of those polled said that the government should subsidise the cost of building materials to addresses challenges in housing development.
According to Lands and Housing Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, it is estimated that building materials account for about 40 per cent of construction costs.
High cost of financing housing development continues to undermine Kenyans’ ability to borrow money to purchase homes, Ms Ngilu said during the launch of the report in Nairobi.
“According to the Economic Survey of 2014, interest rates stood at an average of 17 per cent, which is a prohibitive rate for mortgages and commercial loans for housing development,” she said.
The survey showed that more than 90 per cent of financial institutions interviewed indicated that they did not have specific products geared towards saving for mortgages.
At the same time, a majority of developers (68 per cent) reported that their buildings were occupied only after full completion, with the rest saying due to the high demand for housing, their houses were occupied while incomplete.
Asked what they thought was the cause of collapsed buildings in the country, 28.7 per cent of professionals blamed use of sub-standard materials, use of quacks for supervision and hurried constructions.
Additional reporting by Samuel Karanja