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Why Sweet Deal For Tenants in Government Houses is Coming to an End

2 min read

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has raised a red flag over missing monies paid in rent by occupants of government houses.

According to the 2019/2020 National Government Report by the Auditor General, the State Department for Housing and Urban Development loses millions due to outdated rent rates.

Gathungu explained that the current rent paid by civil servants occupying government houses does not reflect the current market rates and recommended that they be reviewed.

This will see civil servants occupying the houses paying more rent. The civil servants enjoy updated house allowances yet the rental rates have not been reviewed since 2001.

In 2020, the state corporation only collected Ksh724.3 million (48%) in rent out of a possible Ksh1 billion. Should the rates be updated to current market rates, this figure is likely to shoot up to Ksh2.5 billion.

The auditor-general explained that the current money collected is not even enough to cover maintenance costs of the houses.

“Consequently, the state department failed to put in place measures to ensure that all rental income due was collected in accordance with the law,” read Ms Gathungu’s report.

Gathungu noted that failure to digitize services could have led to the theft of public money by administrators of the houses. Citing examples, she explained that some tenants refused to pay rent while others collude with rogue administrators to stay years without paying rent.

With digitization in place, the state department will be able to establish expectations of rental income, invoice rent collections and have records of revenue collected and the state of the government-owned houses

The Housing Department was put on the spot for not maintaining a comprehensive register showing the state of every government house, and detailing issues such as vacant houses, terms of occupancy, maintenance costs and houses with rent areas.

The government owns 56,892 houses across the country. Categorised as institutional, police and pool houses are further classified as low, medium and high-grade houses.

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