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Kenyan property owners shun agents as rents stagnate   

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan property owners are shunning housing agents to cut costs as rents stagnate in the capital of Nairobi.

The landlords, mainly those with residential properties, are instead relying on caretakers of their premises.

The caretakers are doing part of the work of agents by engaging potential tenants, advertising for houses and ensuring rent is paid.

Agents charge a commission of between 5 percent and 20 percent to do various work for property owners.

Most landlords, however, are now finding the charges too high as incomes from houses shrink especially in the capital Nairobi and some units stay empty for months.

“I had to do away with the agent because his services became expensive. He was charging me a one-off fee of 7 percent of rent paid when he brings a tenant and 5 percent to ensure rent is collected every month,” Samson Ateka, a landlord in Ruai on the outskirts of Nairobi, said on Thursday.

Ateka found the services expensive after his houses experienced high turnover of tenants.

“They would come, stay a month or so and leave. The agent would bring another tenant and each time I would pay commission. This turned out to be expensive,” said Ateka, who even suspected that it was the agent who was making the tenants leave for him to earn commission.

The businessman with a block of flats that he rents out at 250 dollars a month for three bed-room said his caretaker is doing the work for him.

Some landlords with block of flats, on the other hand, are joining hands to work with a single agent instead of each hiring separately.

Antony Kuyo of Avent Properties in Nairobi, a property management firm, acknowledged that rent in most suburbs bordering Nairobi has stagnated following oversupply of houses, mainly due to increased construction of apartments.

“Some houses are staying for months without tenants. This raises costs because the landlord has to pay for maintenance and standing charges on water and electricity bills. We as agents also lose income when the houses stay vacant because there is no rent to collect,” he said.



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