Rent and Bills Take Half of Kenyans Incomes – Survey

CLOSE to half of monthly household incomes countrywide pay rent and other household bills, findings of a first national housing survey in 32 years showed yesterday.

The study, coveringhouseholds in 44 counties, shows rent alone accounts for 33.8 per cent of monthly household earnings, going up to 44.7 per cent when water, electricity, garbage collection, security and electricity, among other utilities, are factored in. Generally, households in urban rental houses spend 42.3 per cent of their income on rent, with the cost for those in rural areas at 24.9 per cent.

‘Nairobi tenants pay 40.8 per cent of their income to landlords alone excluding utilities, way above the United Nations’ benchmark of 30 per cent. Mombasa and Kiambu counties follow at 30.9 and 29 per cent respectively, according to the National Housing Survey 2012/13. “Overall, owner-occupier households spend higher amounts on water, electricity and groundsmen (Sh1,715) while renting households spend more on watchmen and garbage (Sh1,000),” the report shows.

The study found that only 59.8 per cent of Kenyans above 15 years were engaged in an economic activity, with Kirinyaga county emerging top with 80.5 per cent of its population, while Kitui had the least proportion at 35.6 per cent. The employment rate, according to the survey, is estimated at 8.1 per cent nationally, 9.9 per cent in urban areas and 7.3 per cent in rural areas.

Monthly income level per household is estimated at Sh7,000 nationally, Sh13,000 in urban and Sh5,000 in rural areas. The study found that high housing cost was undermining savings that stood at Sh2,000 nationally, Sh3,000 in urban and Sh1,500 in rural areas. Lands, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet secretary, while launching the report yesterday in Nairobi, blamed the spiraling cost of housing on expensive land, loans, building materials and technology.

“What we have witnessed is something we cannot allow to go on. Looking around, we can have affordable housing for everybody by looking at affordable materials and technology,” she said at the launch attended by stakeholders, including policy makers, researchers, developers and lenders.

A lot of prime public land in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret has been wasted due to lack of requisite approval of building plans occasioned by lack of title deeds. “We are the people who have contributed to growth of slums in urban areas because the land was given to squatters who only have allotment letters and cannot get approval and therefore ended up putting up slums,” she said.

Ngilu said that a stakeholders’ forum bringing together public and private sector actors is scheduled for this Thursday to moot ways of forging strategic partnerships to put up affordable housing units. Housing Finance managing director Frank Ireri blamed high costs of housing partly on lack of comprehensive data that lead to wrong valuation and costing. “The growth in economy will exert pressure on the housing sector as demand for decent housing grows,” Ireri said, pointing out that the bank is mobilising Sh25 billion for projects over the next two years.