Most United Nations employees are expected to find their own homes from commercially available properties. You will pay rents directly to your landlord, and also negotiate the costs of repairs and maintenance with them. Like most cities in the world, Kenyan lease agreements put the onus on landlords for the maintenance of the house’s infrastructure and the payment of rates and taxes, while the tenant is expected to take care of routine maintenance and ‘wear and tear’.The tenant is also responsible for paying all utility bills. Before seeking housing, employees are advised to approach the UN’s Security and Safety Service in G-Block to avail themselves of the latest information on residential security conditions.As well as advising you on the nature of a particular area, the Security and Safety Service will be able to inform you about the local coverage of private security firms, the availability of water and electricity, the nature of the commute from Gigiri and your children’s schools, and what measures you might need to take to make a property secure for your family (see Chapter 4). Staff members are usually advised to arrive in Nairobi before their dependents in order to have time to find suitable accommodation.
Finding a House
Popular areas of expatriate housing include the area around Gigiri and the Runda Estate, the upmarket suburb of Muthaiga, Spring Valley, Loresho, Westlands, Riverside Drive, Nyari Estate and Lavington. Other reasonable and pleasant housing is available in Hurlingham, Kilimani, Kileleshwa and the State House area. Some people prefer to live in the green environs of Karen and Langata, which are located to the south of Nairobi, roughly 15 km from Gigiri, and enjoy close proximity to Nairobi National Park and several other natural attractions (see Chapter 9). The best way to find residential accommodation is either by word of mouth or by looking at the noticeboards at the Gigiri Complex, or at the 27 28 • KARIBU KENYA more popular shopping centres, particularly the Sarit Centre, the Yaya Centre and Village Market. It is also worth looking at the Nation and Standard newspapers, the monthly Focus on Property magazine, and the website www.theexpatriate.org, which provides practical information and contacts especially designed for new residents.
Rental Costs & Conditions
House rents are still quite high in Nairobi, with average rents ranging from Ksh 30-50,000 for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment or a small cottage, Ksh 50-80,000 for a two- or three-bedroom townhouse, and Ksh 60- 140,000 for a three- to five-bedroom house with a large garden in one of the more upmarket suburbs. Most rental agreements involve the signing of a 1-2 year lease, with renewal clauses allowing for a rental fee increase – usually in the region of 10%. UN staffers are encouraged to request a ‘diplomatic clause’ that permits the tenant to terminate the lease with 1-3 months’ notice in the event of a reassignment or transfer. Most landlords request three months’ advance rent, and arriving staff should apply to their agency for a salary advance to meet this requirement. Furnished & Serviced Apartments Nairobi also has a good number of furnished and/or serviced apartments for rent, which are ideal for those on short-term contracts or newcomers who are in the process of finding somewhere more permanent. Most of these apartments are located in two main areas: the Hurlingham/Kilimani area, which has some of the city’s most comfortable serviced apartments, and Westlands, which has several new apartment developments, particularly in the vicinity of Rhapta Road.
The sensible selection of a house and good security awareness by everyone in it are key to strong residential security. The UN’s Home Security Scheme entitles all internationally recruited staff to the services of a private security firm at their agency’s expense.The following tips will help you in protecting you and your family at home.
Choosing a House
- Try to find a house that is not too isolated and has other occupied properties around it.
- Try to avoid houses that back onto areas of forest or farms that could allow intruders a concealed approach and easy getaway.
- Avoid opulent and ostentatious homes that look like they contain a lot of expensive personal goods. Making Your House Secure
- The following should be considered as minimal security provisions for your house:
- A 24-hour guard service with a reputable security firm (as recommended by the Security Office).
- A security alarm system with backup service.
- A siren on the roof with a flashing light connected to the alarm system.
- A perimeter fence and solid gate, which cannot be seen through.
- Good perimeter lighting.
- Security bars on the windows, preferably fitted to the inside and set into the walls.
- Solid exterior doors, with strong quality locks and padlocks.
- A ‘safe haven’ area in which all residents can fit in the event of a robbery, with a telephone point and a radio alarm panic button.
- Consider also installing an intruder alarm system linked to your backup alarm system. Security Within the Home
- Try to get to know your neighbours and their house staff.
- Keep dogs, no matter how small, as a deterrent to thieves.
- Keep cash and valuables locked in a safe or another secure place, to which only you have the keys.
- Retain all ‘safe haven’ keys in your possession, and never leave them where others can find them.
- Change locks if a key is lost or you have to dismiss any of your house staff.
- Make sure all your staff and babysitters are well acquainted with door opening and telephone answering procedures.
- Do not admit unscheduled tradesmen or other strangers onto your compound, and make sure your staff inform you of any visitors they are receiving.
- Keep trees and bushes trimmed to make it more difficult for intruders to hide themselves or to observe your movements from outside.
- Never leave the house unattended and always lock up when you are out, even for very short periods.
- Keep your main gate locked at all times.