Adopted from HOME AND AWAY/ Page 11 – Second Feature
Thursday, January 24, 2013/ The Standard
Some tenants are subletting rooms, guest wings and servants’ quarters even as developers turn to smaller housing units, writes KEVIN OGUOKO
According to the 2009 census,one out of every three Kenyans lived in urban areas, implying that out of the 38.6million total population, 12.5 million Kenyans live in some 108 designated urban centres with populations ranging between 20,000 and 3 million.
This huge population puts pressure on the already existing housing deficit.This forces many to end up living in informal settlements.”When I finished my degree and got a job, i moved out of my parents’ house. The job was well off, so I opted to find a house for myself near the CBD. The ones I found were too expensive and small, and were in someone else’s compound or cheap, but in informal and insecure areas,” says Mark Owuor an IT technician living in Nairobi.
One-bedroom flats and bedsitter located nearer the Nairobi Central Business District are more expensive compared to the same units further away.A one-bedroom flat in Langata goes for between Shl6,000 to Sh20,000 while in South B, the same goes for Shl6, 000 to Sh25,000. A bedsitter flat in Ngumo goes for Sh8,000 to Sh lO,OOO. In Umoja, Nairobi, one-bedroom units rent for Sh9,000 to Shl3,000 while bedsitters go for between Sh6,000 to Sh9,000. Sensing a readily available market for smaller units of bedsitters and one-bedroom houses, many homeowners and those renting standalone houses have opened their doors to cater for this group. They offer sub-letting their extra space at a reduced price.
CASHING ON SPACE
It is not uncommon to find owners of the main house subletting out their servant’s quarters for rent. Some have even added extra guest wing for rental
purposes. In South B, Nairobi, a four bedroomed maisonette with a guest wing and a servant’s quarter rents for between Sh45,000 to Sh5O,OOO. ”A guest wing can also be let out for about Sh12,000 while a bedsitter servant’s quarters will fetch ShlO,OOO. Similar units in a flat around this area are higher and rare because of the housing arrangement,” says Kamau, a housing agent from South B. ”The houses have a back door, so the main house residents and the people residing in the servant’s quarter are separated,” adds Kamau. But this is not the only scenario as some let out extra rooms in their houses. Peter Kamau, a resident of Donholm Estate, Nairobi, found a way of avoiding paying much rent while at the same time living in a spacious apartment with all the comforts. ”I got a two-bedroom house for Sh17,000. Then let out the spare bedroom for Sh8,000. From the way I look at it, I’m paying lesser rent and living in a more comfortable house than someone living in someone’s servants quarters’ and paying much more,” says Peter.
Housing problems in the various colleges and universities has also driven developers to put up houses around the various education institutions.”We found out that many students, especially those in self-sponsored programmes, had housing problems as their institutions did not provide adequate hostel facilities,” says James Mwangi, the managing director of Balcon Housing Company. He adds: “The common units around the areas ofKahawa, Roysambu and Githurai today are bed-sitters and one-bedroom houses. They are more popular with the students and single people most of who reside second here. “A different situation exists when it comes to developing houses for homeowners. ”You find that not many single people in Kenya invest in housing units. Most of the potential homeowners are people with families. This is the reason why many developers opt to develop larger housing units of two bedrooms and above,” says Abdullahi Dahir, Executive Director of Imara Gardens Property.
Some developers, like the Suraya Property Group, have already ventured into developments in recent months – developing smaller housing units· of one-bedroom and bedsitter units for sale. ”When we laid out the framework for these projects, many developers were quite sceptical. They felt it was too ambitions,” says Sue Muraya, Director of Suraya Property Group. The Suraya Property Group has embarked on a development project with one bedroom, bedsitter and studio apartment units. The development, going by the name Sucasa, is located off Mombasa Road. ”It’s a starter home- a smaller unit meant for people who are starting life before eventually investing in a larger house unit in years to come. Many people pay rent for similar units for more than ten years for houses which are not theirs,” says Sue. So, is it time for more developers to enter the market of smaller unit houses? Do they stand to earn more from it? James Mwangi Director and Balcon Housing Company believes so. ”Take the example of Kahawa Wendani where a two-bedroom house goes for Shl3,000 and a bedsitter goes for Sh7,000. There are three large rooms in a two-bedroom house,” says James.
“The space occupied by the two bedroom house can serve up to three bedsitter units. The building’s owner stands a chance to make money from investing in bedsitters rather than the two-bedroom units. Approximately Sh8,000 more,” he concludes.
An artists rendition of the Sucasa bedsitter block.
A bedsitter unit. [PHOTOS:
FILE AND COURTESY/