It is a hard time for landlords in Nairobi’s satellite towns as the supply of houses outstrips the demand for the same, leaving landlords with empty buildings and loans to pay.
So serious is the problem that some landlords have resulted to some unconventional methods to lure people into their premises, which include giving a three-month trial period or 30 day money back guarantee if you do not like the house that you have picked.
Even the old landlords who were making a killing with inflated rents are now forced to lower the rents or offer coupons to their tenants which can be used to offset rent amounts for a period of up to one year, as landlords get desperate to recruit and retain tenants.
Some have also resulted to offering additional services to their tenants, such as one-year free supply of salt and free membership to gym facilities near their residence, just in an effort to get tenants to stay. In some cases, landlords are closing two rooms in three bed-roomed houses and renting them out as one bedroom, then they keep trying to give you offers and discounts for you to purchase the key to the other rooms so that you can enjoy the benefits of the full house.
The chairman of the landlords association said that being a landlord is no longer a passive business where ones visits every end month to receive money from their investment, but an active one where one needs to invest time marketing, getting creative and even up-selling to existing tenants. He said that landlords have to partner with the police to ensure security in their neighborhood, the local leaders to ensure the roads are maintained, utility companies to ensure that there is no unnecessary interruption of power and water, and also find ways as a community to keep their tenants happy in the neighborhood.
In some places, the agents in charge of maintaining houses are offering nyama choma Fridays just to make the tenants stick around, others offering free laundry services, resident barbers and salons, as well as school fees vouchers.
In Kilimani, one only needs a positive CRB record to get a house without paying a deposit, as it is assumed that the good credit rating is an assurance that they will not default.
A property consultant in Nairobi said that these new measures by the landlords should be the new normal, saying that landlords had the habit of doing business in a very 1943 style. “Landlords have not been changing with time, and they have been acting like government inspectors or tax collectors. It is the time they realized that they are in different world and need to learn from other sectors.”