By Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Rent for small income households in Kenya is rising faster as
compared to the other levels, pushing poor families to the edge.
Most poor families, especially in the capital Nairobi, live in
single rooms or one bedroom houses which cost between 30 U.S.
dollars and 120 dollars.
The worst-off live in slums in tin or mud houses where a single room
shack goes from between 4 dollars and 10 dollars.
Rent at the low income level has risen by at least 5 percent in the
last one year, new data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
(KNBS) showed Thursday.
The upward trajectory is registered even as rent for the households
in the middle and upper level incomes stagnate during the same
In September last year, low income families in Nairobi were paying
for a single room 38 dollars, according to the KNBS.
However, at the end of last month, the rent had hit 41 dollars with
the biggest jump being recorded between August and September at 1.7
percent. During the one month, rent for the single room rose from
slightly above 39 dollars to 41 dollars.
“Most of my income goes to paying rent that I am wondering if I
would be able to continue living in this city in the next two
years,” said stone mason Andrew Muyori on Thursday.
Muyori lives in Kayole, a mixed low and middle income estate, on the
east of the capital Nairobi. Rent in the residential area for a
single room currently averages 45 dollars.
“When I came to Kayole two years ago, I was paying for the room in
which I stay in with my two children 30 dollars but during the
period it has now increased to 42 dollars,” said Muyori, adding that
some landlords are charging up to 55 dollars for single room houses.
Those who are charging higher have tiled the houses, which are
spacious and the facilities are still new.
The rent comprises of up to 60 percent of his income, according to
Muyori, who works at different construction sites in Nairobi,
earning between 3 and 4 dollars a day.
On the other hand, rent for one bedroom houses stands at between 80
dollars and 120 dollars while for two-bedroom houses, at between 140
dollars and 170 dollars.
The same is the case in the neighbouring Umoja estate and Rongai, in
Kajiado County on the outskirts of Nairobi. However, for two-bedroom
houses, things are different.
“I have been paying 150 dollars for my two bedroom house in Rongai
for the past two years and the last time the landlord attempted to
increase, people left so he has not tried.”
Only three of the 16 houses in the four-storey flat are empty, and
the reason is that the rent has not gone up, said Mary Wangai, an
In the estate, Wangai said single rooms go for up to 60 dollars and
they are hard to find since demand is high as compared to the other
Some 80 percent of Kenyans living in urban areas like Nairobi do not
stay in their houses, according to HassConsult, a real estate firm.
The firm in a recent report noted that tenants in the East African
nation pay one of the highest proportion of income in rent than
their counterparts in any other part of the world.
Therefore, any case of rent rise pushes up inflation especially for
the poor households. In September, an increase in rent was among the
contributors of a higher inflation which stood at 7.1 percent.
“Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ index decreased
by 0.16 percent. This was mainly due to notable decrease in the cost
of electricity which outweighed observed marginal increases in the
cost of house rents and cooking fuels,” noted the KNBS.
Antony Kuyo, a real estate consultant with Avent Properties in
Nairobi, blamed the rising rent at the lower level to surging
“Demand is highest at that level because a good number of people are
beginning life therefore single rooms come in handy. And these
people are the majority in Nairobi as they migrate to the capital in
search of jobs,” said Kuyo.