The correlation between noise pollution and property prices in Kenya

Definitions of noise pollution
  • The Kenyan law states that there is a difference between ‘disturbing noise’ and ‘noise nuisance’. The former is defined as a scientifically measurable noise level and the latter is any noise that may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person.
  • According to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA),  noise pollution means the emission of uncontrolled noise that is likely to cause danger to human health or damage to the environment.
  • According to the Environmental Management and Coordination Control Regulations (2009) for noise and excessive vibration pollution, to determine if  a noise is loud, unreasonable, unnecessary or unusual, the following factors may be considered-

(a) time of the day;

(b) proximity to residential area;

(c) whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent or constant;

(d) the level and intensity of the noise;

(e) whether the noise has been enhanced in level or range by any type of electronic or mechanical means; and,

(f) whether the noise can be controlled without much effort or expense to the person making the noise.

Source: NEMA

In order to check whether the noise levels coming from an establishment one can use free decibel testing apps from the app store. Alternatively, you could also try taking a video with sound on your phone.

Closure of noisy establishments

Source: Twitter

Noise pollution in residential areas has made it to the news lately with the Governor of Nairobi, Sakaja Johnson, revoking the licenses of 43 clubs. It is reported that county officials conducted noise assessment tests across the 43 clubs and found them at fault. 

H.E. President William Ruto backed the move and assured the Governor of his support in making sure that noise pollution in residential areas stops. 

On October 3, 2022, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Richard Ngatia moved to save the closure of the 43 clubs following the order by the Nairobi City Council Alcoholic Drinks Control and Licencing Board to revoke liquor licenses of the clubs over noise pollution. It was agreed that all bar owners be invited to dialogue.

 He urged all bar owners to follow the law as regards noise pollution in residential areas & ensure roads are not congested by their patrons.

On the other hand, the National Chairman of Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK) Michael Muthami in an interview on Spice FM, argued that it is illegal for the liquor licensing board to revoke the licenses.

 He added that the closure of clubs on the 29th November, 2022 came as a surprise as they were in the process of setting up a committee to get the members to toe the line. 

He felt that there was a disconnect in terms of communication between them and the office of the Governor and they needed clarity on the statement he made about the closure. However,  the chairman agreed that indeed noise problem was an issue.

For a long time, resident associations such as the Kilimani Project Foundation (KPF) have been lobbying NEMA to take action on entertainment establishments that refuse to abide by the law and put up the necessary measures to curb noise pollution. 

The efforts have not been very successful and it was until the new government came into office and the Nairobi Governor set things in motion. In Karen, the Karen & Lang’ata District Association (KLDA) has also raised complaints over the matter and has sought the closure of some of these establishments.

When it comes to real estate prices, it’s common to see that quieter areas are often deemed desirable and therefore pricier than densely populated areas. Noisier areas even in less densely populated areas will affect the tranquility of these places and hence become a key determinant in whether or not one would be willing to spend a premium to live in such an area on the basis of privacy alone.

Due to increasing noise from human activities associated with recreation, religious and unorganized informal sectors, studies show that these activities abate high sound levels of noise which are injurious to city dwellers. Interruption of speech, interruption of sleep, and cardiovascular illnesses such as hypertension have noise pollution as the common denominator.

Sleep is a basic need and most people spend their time indoors or at least 8 hours of their days asleep. To make matters worse, there are those that suffer different ailments which become worse in noisy environments.

 It is safe to say that noise pollution does affect property prices in the same way the size of the house, the number of bedrooms, availability and easy access to utilities, proximity to their workplace, and other social amenities do.

How noise pollution affects property prices

Source: Colins & Evans (2008)

In most cases, noise pollution in urban areas comes from traffic noise (rail, motor vehicles and aircraft). In Europe particularly, noise pollution is a major determinant in property prices. Other continents, countries, and cities are also not an exception. 

Studies such as Collins & Evans, 2008; have proven that there is a strong correlation between noise and property prices where the closer a property is to the source of noise pollution, the lower the sale price will be. 

Houses located in an area in which noise disrupts normal activities (defined by a day-night sound level of 70–75 decibels) sell for 20.8 percent less than houses located where noise does not disrupt normal activities (defined by a day–night sound level below 65 decibels).

A study using a survey research design was done in Nigeria and it found that noise pollution has a negative impact on rental prices. The data analysis was based on sixty-one questionnaires retrieved. 

The data were analyzed with descriptive statistics such as frequency, percentage and mean. The results revealed that noise pollution reduces property rental values.

If we compare the capital cities of Nigeria and Kenya there are several similarities between Abuja and Nairobi respectively. Some include solid road networks, remarkable architecture, world-class stadiums and supporting infrastructure.

 It’s therefore possible to draw parallels between the two cities as far as real estate is concerned. The study recommends the development and enforcement of noise abatement measures to improve urban neighbourhood quality and increase property values.

In other countries where this kind of study has been done, they found that there are ten things in a neighbourhood that can devalue a house, namely: noise from the airport, train tracks, nearby highway, an athletic complex, power plants, landfills, cell phone tower, strip club and criminal activity.

 Properties in close proximity to highways have 8-10 % reduction in value than those in a quiet area, real estate close or next to railways is 6.7 % decrease in market value and an increase in the noise of 1 decibel (db) decreases the value up to 0.3 % of suburban properties close to airports.

In Nairobi, there has been an outcry about the increasing construction of highrise apartment buildings by residents in areas such as Kilimani and Kileleshwa. The concern is that the infrastructure does not support an increase in  residents in this area as this would strain resources such as water, power and also  increase traffic which would automatically increase noise levels. 

This will ultimately lead to a decrease in property values for those who paid a premium price for real estate in these areas when all the devaluing factors did not exist. 

Some comments by residents show their frustration

The Kenyan home buyer is becoming more aware of the salient features that make a home worth the investment. Beyond the size of the house, beautiful interior, access to gyms and closeness to social amenities such as grocery stores, people are now paying close attention to their well-being and particularly mental health. 

When children are not able to study or sleep well, their development as healthy human beings is put at risk and the effects of this is already being noticed in their poor academic performance.

 Sleep is a basic need for all and ranks high up in the list and one would dare say above access to a good internet connection. People’s homes are supposed to be peaceful enough for them to rejuvenate after long working days. Noise pollution affects people’s ability to be productive and it will always be a major factor in determining whether a property is worth investing in or not.

Digicurated is an online marketing company curating content for real estate with a focus on property that safeguard the privacy and well-being of families.

House for sale

  • Location: Santack estate along Ngong road, about 600m from the Junction Mall
  • Size: 0.0127ha / 127 square metres
  • 2 bedrooms, kitchenette, small living room
  • Large front and back yard
  • Rudan kindergarten within the estate
  • 2 large play grounds
  • Safe and quiet neighbourhood
  • Garbage collection: Ksh 450 p.m.
  • Security: Ksh 700 p.m.
  • Borehole water: 2 cents per litre
  • Price: 12.5M (non-negotiable)
  • Photos and video
  • Contacts: 0707 844 444

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