In Summary
  • A large number of Nairobians  are in danger of being priced out of the city, all thanks to rent increase and high house prices

When Legacy Heights Apartments opens its doors later this month, tenants will  fork out Sh30,000 monthly for a one bedroom. A two bedroom will go for Sh45,000 per month.

The apartments are located in Uthiru, 20 kilometres from Nairobi city centre.

But some Nairobians have complained that the rent is too high.

 “Awesome houses, cheeei but the price is too high (sic), please make it Sh20,000 and Sh25,000 (for one bedroom and two bedroom apartments) respectively,” read  a post by a Facebook user, Mary Mariama.

“Thanks Mary, quality finishing costs a lot, unfortunately. We have to recover by charging a premium,” responded Legacy Heights.

 The managers of Legacy Heights Apartments had posted attractive photos of the newly-built apartments hoping to woo clients on their Facebook page.

By February 27, the post had received 554 likes, 256 comments and 34 shares. Many of those who commented decried the high rent charged. “That house should range at Sh25,000 or less” pointed out Facebook user Calvo Ochy. 

When Mary saw that her pleading was getting her nowhere, she threw in the towel: “Ok, bei ikishuka tag me (if the price goes down, let me know).”

Other Facebook users thought she was funny, but not Legacy Heights Apartments Facebook page administrator, who did not react to her comment.

Uthiru is located 20 kilometres away from the central business district. Interestingly, the longest distance to the township also happens to be the shortest.

It would take you 41 minutes to access Uthiru via the Southern bypass, which is a distance of 24.4 kilometres, but if you opt for Ngong Road, you will be on the road for at least 51 minutes, beating your way out of traffic to cover the 14.9 kilometres to the town. The town is also 21.3 kilometres and 41 minutes away from the city via Waiyaki way, according to Google Maps.

Legacy Heights Apartments complex is located about half a kilometre off Naivasha Road on a dusty feeder road and, it is therefore easy to see why people would shudder at the prospects of paying Sh30,000 a month for rent.

Nakuru-based financial advisor Dalton Walukaya, and also the director of Visalife Financial Services Ltd, told DN2 that for someone to be able to pay comfortably Sh30,000 monthly rent, they would need to earn more than three times that figure.

Flats in Nyayo Estate, Embakasi. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Flats in Nyayo Estate, Embakasi. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

This works out to about Sh90,000 and above, and it puts the person right into the middle class bracket.

While this example highlights the tight situation renters are finding themselves in when looking for accommodation in the capital, those who opt to buy a home have also found themselves locked out of the market due to high prices.

In Avic Park Apartments on Laikipia Road, Kileleshwa, Nairobi, two to three bedroom apartments are selling between Sh27 million and Sh65 million. The company’s sales manager told DN2 that their target market is largely the middle and upper classes. 

Ruaka houses

A spot check by DN2 on various online listings showed that a three bedroom apartment in Kilimani will cost at least Sh19 million while in Lavington, a similar apartment on a Kings Pride property, listed on a popular local listing website, is going for Sh30 million.

This is just about the price of similar properties in that neighbourhood. On the northern side of the CBD, in Ruaka, a two-bedroom house is ranging at between Sh12 million and Sh17 million, with a three bedroom fetching slightly more than that. 

Cases of property developers coming up with multi-million shilling housing projects, yet said to target the “ever ballooning” middle class, are commonplace.

RAISES A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS

This raises a number of questions: Can an average middle class person afford such a property? What are their average salaries and would they need to take up a mortgage to buy a house? How much mortgage are they entitled to?

If the developer’s assertion that the middle class is ballooning holds water, why is it that there are only less that 30,000 mortgages in a country with over nine million households? Are developers basing their projects on well-done research, facts and figures, or just perception?

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the middle class consists of households which spend Sh24,000 -120, 000 per month.

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