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Kenyan renters lack privacy – report

By Francis Ayieko | Mar 19th 2015 | 3 min read
By Francis Ayieko | March 19th 2015

NAIROBI: Kenyan renters are living in crowded houses, forcing them to lose their privacy.

According to the Kenya National Housing Survey 2012/2013 released on Monday by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, crowding has been caused by inadequate living space, which is often measured by persons per habitable room in a dwelling unit.

The report indicates that the average floor area per person is higher for owner occupier households compared to renting households.

It notes that the average floor area per person for urban owner occupier households is 10.7 square metres compared to seven square metres for urban renting households.

Crowding, according to the report, goes against the UN-Habitat Agenda’s definition of adequate housing, which goes beyond just having a roof over one’s head, to encompass adequate privacy and space among other things.

The UN-Habitat considers a house to have sufficient living area for household members if three or less people share the same room.

In relation to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and guidelines, owner occupier households have adequate space while renting households generally lack adequate living space. The survey found that owner occupier households have a comparatively lower number of persons per room (1.6) compared to renting households, which stood at 2.0.

A total of 9,180,716 households – 5,491,367 rural households and 3,689,349 urban households – nationwide were covered.

Out of the 9,180,716 households estimated from the survey, 59.8 per cent were in rural areas while 40.2 per cent are in urban areas.

The proportion of owner occupier households who reside in rural areas is high at 81.5 per cent compared to 18.5 per cent for those in urban areas. On the contrary, 79.2 per cent of renting households reside in urban areas while 20.8 per cent reside in rural areas.

According to the report, about 5.9 million Kenyans surveyed are homeowners. Out of this, about 4.8 million are rural-based, whereas 1.09 million are urban dwellers.

The total number of renters among the population surveyed was 3,279,997. Out of this, 2,599,161 were based in urban centres while the remaining 680,836 were in rural Kenya.

“In principle, renting is mainly associated with households living in the urban areas, whereas owner occupier households are largely a rural phenomenon,” says the report released in Nairobi by Lands, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu. The study shows that nationally, the average household has 4.2 members.

The average household sizes for rural and urban households were 4.6 and 3.4, respectively.

It further said that renting households have smaller household sizes compared to owner occupier households.

“Nonetheless, there was no difference in household size between urban and rural household renters,” it said.

Bomet, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties recorded high average household sizes of 5.7, 5.6 and 5.3 members, respectively while Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Nyeri and Nairobi recorded low sizes of 3.1, 3.2, 3.2 and 3.3 members, respectively.


It added that considering the type of household member composition, it is important to note that if certain types of households are accommodated in a single room, they tend to be more deprived of living space.

For instance, it said, a couple living with children and other relatives is more deprived of space and privacy if living in a single room compared to a non-couple household composed of non-relatives.

“Based on the above rationale, the results of the survey reveal that there are more households that are deprived of living space in urban areas compared to the rural areas,” it said. The results showed that over 40 per cent of households nationally comprised couples living with their children.

Most of the other types of households range between six per cent and 12 per cent.

The type of household that registered the lowest percentage (below one per cent) both in rural and urban areas are the couples without children.

The proportion of single-person households and single parents living with children are highest in urban areas at 19.3 per cent and 8.5 per cent, respectively.

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