The old houses are being demolished and replaced with high rise buildings modelled into bedsitters and one bedroomed self-contained houses.
One of such estate is Langa Langa Phase One whose houses were constructed in the early sixties.
The old houses have three one-bedroom units with a spacious kitchen and a store each and a separate single room. Away from the main block are three toilets that are shared among the tenants. Their rent is between Sh5,000-6,000 per month. The single room goes for between Sh3,000 and Sh3,500.
In the sixties, the same houses had a monthly rent of between Sh100 to Sh150 for the one-bedroom houses and Sh30 to Sh50 for the single room.
In the mid-eighties to early nineties, their rent shot to between Sh 300-500 and Sh 100-150 per month for one bedroomed house and single room respectively. “The modern houses offer privacy to our families as opposed to the old ones that have tenants sharing washrooms or water facilities exposing us to unhygienic conditions,” says Hannington Otieno.
In the new set up, the rent for a bedsitter goes for between Sh4,500 and 6,000 a month and Sh7,000 to Sh8,000 for one bedroom units.
The rise in rent was occasioned by tribal clashes after the 1992, 1997 and 2007 general elections. Hundreds of thousands of affected people from Central Rift and North Rift migrated to the town for security reasons.
It has also been blamed on the influx of Sudanese refugees who sought political asylum in Kenya.
Tenants who were unable to afford rent in the neighbouring Racecourse estate also relocated to Langa Langa Estate Phase One and the neighbouring Pangani Estate, prompting landlords here to increase their rents by between 400 and 500 per cent.
“Since then, life has never been the same again as we have been forced to dig deep into our pockets in order to sustain ourselves in a relatively cheaper, affordable and accommodative houses as opposed to shifting to the slums,” says Mary Mwangi, a single mother of three who has lived in Langa Langa Phase One Estate for the past three decades.
“The government needs to revert to its old systems of doing things where no landlord could arbitrary increase rent without the approval of the Rent Tribunal,” she says. “Going back to the slums due to rent increase is not an option for me as I’m comfortable here (Langa Langa),” she says.
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