Editorials

State review of house rent justifiable

rent

Government houses in Kizingo, Mombasa. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

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Summary

  • The government house rents were last reviewed 21 years ago and are therefore not aligned to current market rent rates.
  • Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said the increase has been occasioned by the fact that there have been several reviews of house allowance for civil servants since 2001 yet the amount they pay in rent has remained stagnant over the period.
  • Although the government charges very low rent on these properties, those occupying them usually default even on the small amounts.

The Housing Ministry has raised rents on all government-owned residential houses by 10 percent effective April 1 this year.

The government house rents were last reviewed 21 years ago and are therefore not aligned to current market rent rates.

Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said the increase has been occasioned by the fact that there have been several reviews of house allowance for civil servants since 2001 yet the amount they pay in rent has remained stagnant over the period.

The total number of government houses across the 47 counties stands at 56,892 houses with an expected monthly rental income of Sh127,048,750.

Although the government charges very low rent on these properties, those occupying them usually default even on the small amounts.

A report by the Auditor General Nancy Gathungu shows that nearly half of civil servants occupying government houses do not pay rent as required.

According to the report, rent collections on government houses for the year to June 2020 was Sh724.3 million out of an annual rent potential of Sh1.5 billion when fully occupied.

With the below optimal collections, it is not hard to see why the government houses are run down, without repairs for years.

It is only fair that the government increases the rent.

The government should also increase its enforcement of collection to ensure that all civil servants living in the houses pay their dues.

The Housing ministry should digitise its systems to improve invoicing, rent collections, booking of revenue, and reconciliations

The government must also ensure that requisite services are provided with the increase by ensuring the houses are repaired and well maintained.

Most government residential houses are seriously run down and in a state of disrepair hence occupants do not see why they should pay more when they do not get better services.