How to choose the right neighborhood best suits me in Kenya as a tenant?

Crime seems to be on everyone’s mind these days ranging from the poor to the rich, young to the old, and employed to the unemployed. The landlords and tenants are not an exception to this vice making crime a unifying force attracting more concerns than before. A friend called me for advice the other day saying that he recently rented an apartment in a certain neighborhood in Nairobi only to realize two weeks later that the area is not secure and that insecurity and burglary is the order of the day.

It is an undeniable fact that there are many other tenants out there who are frightened and suffering in silence wondering if they can get out of their leases or rental agreements less than a month after they signed it. Unfortunately for them, the answer is that if they break the lease or the rental agreement without giving the required notice, they stand to lose their security deposit leaving the landlord with nothing to lose.

To remedy this, tenants may choose to lessen the chance of moving into apartments in areas where there is a high risk of crime or where inadequate precautions are taken by management to reduce the risk through simple logical steps.

Before signing any agreement for an apartment or a house, you should make it your goal to visit the apartment complex during the evenings to examine the lighting in the entrances and parking areas. Is there excessive shrubbery or dark corners that could provide hiding places for criminals? To get a balanced view of the place you should also pay a visit during the day and seek to interview tenants on how safe the area seems to be and how responsive management is to security concerns.

For example, if a security light goes out, does management immediately replace the bulb or take weeks to do so? What about the parking area, is it safe for you to leave your car there? Does the landlord or the management inform the tenant in advance if their staff needs to enter his or her apartment to do repairs? If it is not in the lease, ask that it will be written as part of the terms on the lease knowing at the back of your mind that the reasonable notice is 24 hours prior to entering. Is management careless with the keys to the apartments? Will you feel safe to walk home after working hours if you don’t drive?

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