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Kenya should fix property laws to solve housing crisis

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Singapore gained its independence and self-governance almost the same time Kenya did. With this, it is expected that the two countries should have had similar problems as well as solutions too. But this is not the case. For now, let us narrow down to housing sector which remains a crisis in Kenya.

But where did the rain start biting us? Despite high potential growth of the housing sector in Kenya, we are still grappling with many challenges that can easily be eradicated. The biggest challenge in the housing sector is lack of proper regulations. This has left the private sector to run the show leading to a lot of poor planning, high cost of land, increased illegal structures among others.

We are also talking about underutilised land in both the rural and urban areas. When we look around, there is still a lot of land which is bare and underutilised and that is essential for the housing sector. This still boils down to lack of laws and regulations which continue to allow a few people to own chunks of acres of land while other Kenyans squeeze in slums.

Another rising crisis is increased greed by a majority of local contractors who continue to value their wallets than the welfare of its citizens by developing haphazard building which some end up collapsing. This does not only leave affect the sector but also grieving families.

All said and done, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. As Ritz Housing and Properties Limited still we still believe that the problem facing Kenya housing sector can easily be solved through strong stakeholder’s cooperation in the industry; the major stakeholder being the government.

Supporting the rise of gated communities and neighbourhood in Kenya should be consequently followed by construction of core services centres and also a mix of affordable housing. The gated community approach creates even more space for other housing units to cater for the rise of population in the country. At Ritz Housing and Properties, we continue to encourage aspiring home owners to embrace gated community approach, as it affordable and also accommodating for those who don’t have enough cash but are ready for a long term payment plan. We walk with them through this.

Smart use of urban density; – The country needs to make good use of urban spaces and density. This is possible by zoning out areas where high rise buildings should be constructed. This will solve the issue of lack of availability of land. It is logic economically to build a high-rise building with many housing units than standalone house.

There is need for Integrated approach to housing. Housing must be solely controlled by the government to avoid foul play by the private sector. This form of control is on the part of the land acquisition and also approval of construction of housing units. On the other hand, creating a long term and political commitment remains very crucial.  Kenya must develop long term solutions rather than short term, on matters to the housing. For the country’s GDP to grow, housing sector must improve significantly. The political class must be able to pass policies that will solve this crisis once and for all, if at all they are going to manage the waves of the housing crisis in Kenya.

Last and not the least, proper enforcement of the law is paramount. Kenya must be able to ensure consistency in how we address this housing crisis. For instance, the Judiciary must hasten the court processes regarding housing or land disputes. Some of these disputes have led to delay in development of great housing projects across the country. The Executive must ensure all its agencies are at work to ensure that housing laws are adhered to. On its part, the Legislature must pass bills in favour of solving the housing crisis on long term basis.

Finally, the three arms of government need be able to coordinate well if Kenya wants to eliminate the housing crisis, once and for all.

The Writer is the Managing Director, Ritz Housing and Properties

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