Bizzare Designs by Kenyan Landlords That Have Sparked Debate

  • photo collage between a building and interior design of another house
    photo collage between a building and the interior design of another house
  • Necessity has continued to drive innovations in the real estate sector, compelling landlords to devise new designs to address myriad challenges in the housing area.

    The decision towards solving the problems bedeviling the real estate sector has resulted in landlords unveiling interior and exterior designs that have sparked debate from tenants and other Kenyans.

    Occasionally, some of the constructions are done bizarrely, with a toilet sink in the living room, or a toilet bowl in the kitchen in some houses in Nairobi. 

    Other landlords build mini skyscrapers that have extremely narrow stairways and squeezed corridors

    Photo collage between a toilet and sink opposite it another toilet
    Photo collage between a toilet and sink opposite it another toilet inside a house

    In 2018, one skyscraper under construction in Kayole, Nairobi sparked outrage forcing then Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko to order its demolition. The narrow five-storey building relied on other houses as its support base. 

    With the exterior flaws getting noticed easily, landlords switched to designing the interiors to meet the ballooning demand for rentals. 

    A 2020 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) detailed that Nairobi houses are becoming smaller as landlords rush to attract tenants. 

    Developers target tenants rushing to the city for low-income jobs. The rising population in Nairobi and the hiked land prices also affect construction designs. 

    Landlords are thus forced to think outside the box with some fitting squatting toilets in the same room as the bathroom.

    To maximise the available space, some set up sinks and cupboards in very weird positions within the house.

    With weather conditions varying in the country, a number of developers in some estates have installed water heaters on their sinks igniting debate on the safety of tenants.

    Questions further arose on whether such hazardous designs are approved by the National Construction Authority (NCA).

    Tenants also lamented that newly built houses have different sets of tiles and paintings. 

    Some landlords, however, have embraced smart designs and automation to attract tenants. 

    A block of apartments in Nairobi.
    A block of apartments in Nairobi.

    The landlords are enticing buyers with internet-furnished homes coupled with intercoms, CCTV, metered gas systems, automated parking systems, automatic gates and automated garden sprinklers. 

    Automated rent collection, tenant correspondence, house cleaning, security, support, front house, technical support, and space planning also act as incentives. 

    Landlords are also using Virtual Reality (VR) to enable customers to tour predeveloped or ready house units.