House management companies and landlords have reduced rents in Kilifi to cushion their tenants against the effects of COVID 19 and attract more people seeking accommodation as most houses and private hostels remain empty in the town.
The competition for tenants to occupy vacant houses has come as most houses have been vacated over the past five months since the corona virus was reported in the country that was followed by numerous lock downs by the government of some coastal counties.
Worst affected are landlords with private hostels who were hosting hundreds of Pwani University students who left in a hurry with some leaving their belongings behind after the government closed their institutions.
“My hostel which has a capacity of 34 tenants had been fully occupied by the Pwani University students at the time they were ordered to leave for their homes. Only 12 moved away with their belongings while the rest left them behind and have not communicated to me or paid rent for the past 5 months”, said Karisa Mramba, a hostel owner at Kasarani estate.
He said some students had however had paid full rent for the semester period of 3 months and were scheduled to complete their studies and leave in May, 2020.
“Five of my colleagues who have been hosting University students in their premises have expressed similar concerns over heavy losses incurred following the closure of Pwani University. They are feeling the consequences of COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.
At the housing management agencies offices, adverts on boards indicated that some house rents have been reduced by one third to attract new comers into the county.
A manager at Judan Homes Enterprises Charles Kenga said rents for rooms have now become negotiable as most of the houses they are managing are vacant.
“We depended on tenants from Kilifi Medical Training Centre and Pwani University students who have all vacated our rooms. Our offices are also closed as we have no work to do until probably next year,” he said.
He said they have also been forced to lay off all their six workers who worked as secretaries, rent collectors and inspectors respectively.
A landlord at Makao estate in the town Jacob Ngowa said all his tenants in his 12 roomed house were private primary and secondary school teachers who have since moved to their upcountry rural homes.
“I allowed them to stay in the months of April and May but after the June directive that schools would be opened next year, they had no alternative than to vacate and go to their rural homes. I owe the teachers of Bridge International primary and Kilifi Daystar academy over Sh100, 000 in unpaid rent,” he said.
He expressed hope that the infections of coronavirus pandemic will reduce for the government to allow normal activities including opening of learning institutions come January next year 2021.