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70% of households struggle to pay rent

Nearly 70 percent of households captured in a State survey had difficulties in paying their rent in May, highlighting the impact of Covid-19 hardships on the property market.

A national survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on the impact of the disease on households has revealed that 31.6 per cent of those interviewed paid rent on time compared to 41.7 percent in April.

About 37 percent of those who defaulted were unable to pay rent while 23 percent paid partially and another 8.5 percent were hopeful of meeting the landlord’s obligations, reflecting the impact of restrictions to curb the global Covid-19 pandemic on workers’ incomes.

In April, 30.5 percent of those interviewed were unable to pay rent while 19.7 percent paid partially, a pointer that the economy was hardest-hit in May. Of those who were unable to pay rent, 61 percent blamed it on reduced income while 25.7 percent attributed the challenges to temporary layoffs and closure of their businesses.

“The majority of the households that were unable to pay rent cited reduced income or earnings as the main reason,” said Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani Thursday.

The government closed bars and schools to slow down the spread of the virus after Kenya reported its first coronavirus case on March 12.

The social distancing and closure of businesses like bars and restaurants have affected consumer spending, setting the stage for job cuts and unpaid leave for workers.

The rent defaults emerged in a period when office and home lease costs eased in the first three months of the year with effects of the pandemic expected to further hurt the property market due to low demand.

The number of households that got waivers or relief on their rent fell to 6.7 percent in the period from 8.7 percent in April as landlords shunned State calls to shield Kenyans from the coronavirus woes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in April implored landlords to reduce the rent to cushion Kenyans grappling with job losses, salary cuts and unpaid leave.