Rid housing sector of rabid predators

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Housing project. Photo/Courtesy

Owning a home is the dream of many Kenyans. To make it come true, many scrimp and save, take mortgages, borrow money and join property-buying chamas (Saccos) among other ventures.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of predatory characters lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on these ambitious, yet mostly naïve people and rob them of their hard-earned money in the name of delivering the dream posthaste.   

A week hardly passes without an outcry from investors who paid money to buy plots and houses that they never get to see.  

The tricks the swindlers use are familiar. Usually, a parcel of land is acquired (or is contracted to be bought) and a show house quickly completed.

Advertisements, complete with an artist’s impressions of the new homes, soon follow in the mainstream and social media, on flyers and other mediums.  Some “developers” use celebrities as their ambassadors to inspire confidence.

These tactics by off-plan housing developers bait gullible homebuyers. Often, the number of buyers paying deposits are more than the homes built. There is double allocation and most of the houses are never built.

Many of the so-called housing developers are outright thugs who move around with armed bodyguards for protection.

Some bribe Lands ministry officials to ensure the processing of their documents is fast-tracked.

And some of the scammers even have the cheek to blame the coronavirus pandemic to justify failure to deliver homes. It is unacceptable.

Rogue developers are strangling the housing sector. This means the private sector, which is expected to be the main delivery arm for the government’s affordable housing plan, cannot hack it.

Which is why the government should declare war on these fraudsters, not just to save Kenyans from being robbed blind but also to rescue the housing plan from failure.

What is needed is a multi-agency team to investigate these scams and bring the crooks to book.

The ministries of Lands, Transport, Housing and Infrastructure must join hands with the police, the Attorney General’s office and stakeholders from the private sector to spearhead new laws to contain these fraudsters.

There is also need to vet developers’ financial and technical capacities to deliver promised homes. These things must be done pronto!

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