Nairobi landlords hit by glut of apartments

apartmentsLandlords are finding it difficult to attract tenants in various parts of Nairobi following increased construction of apartments in the fast-growing housing market.

The rapid construction of high-rise apartments in middle-income and some high-ends estates of Nairobi has seen suburbs littered with houses, which the target tenants are shying away from mainly due to high rents.

Most of the apartments target middle-income earners, with average rent for a two-bedroom house being between Sh15,000 and Sh35,000 depending on the location.

Apartments in Nairobi, according to a report by HassConsult, currently comprise 42 per cent of houses – with detached houses coming second at 34.3 per cent and semi-detached at 24 per cent.

In 2001, detached houses comprised 52 per cent of the Nairobi housing market, semi-detached houses 25 per cent while apartments came third at 24 per cent.

Property agents reckon that the glut in the market has been occasioned by increased supply of apartments.

“Some blocks of apartments are as high as seven stories, hosting up to 30 houses. This is a very huge number. If you have four or even six such buildings in a suburb, this can cause a house glut as they compete with two, three and four storey buildings,” says Antony Kuyo, a real estate agent with Avent Properties.

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Mr Kuyo believes that rent is one of the main reasons “beautiful” apartments are failing to attract tenants.

“When you build many houses going for such rent, some will definitely remain unoccupied because there are people who need cheaper houses but will not find them,” he says.

“But it will be a good thing for tenants because rent would definitely go down.”

Dennis Maina, a developer in Ruai, concurs with Mr Kuyo: “Houses here [Ruai] are taking up to over a year to fill up when expect them to take only three months at most.

“Even then, you can’t say there is an apartment block that is fully occupied at any given time. Normal occupancy level is about 60-70 per cent,” he said.

For this reason, developers are being forced to upgrade their rentals in order to woo elusive tenants. This includes fixing hot water showers, installing wi-fi, CCTV surveillance, cable TV and drilling of boreholes.

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