Often when the landlord or caretaker asks if you are single or married with children, you balk at the question. You wonder what audacity they have to ask such a personal question. Most will answer but others will stir the pot and refuse. The thing is that they are not asking for their own entertainment or to be nosy. They actually want to know so they can decide if they should favor you over another interested candidate. Landlords prefer family as tenants to single people.

A study was actually done in 2010 to prove that indeed single people do not gain as much preferential treatment as people with families. The chain goes: families, single women then single men. So maybe those making jokes about ‘singledom’ being a WHO recognized disability have a point, no? Below are the possible reasons for this preference. The reasons are not necessarily the norm but rather the perception.


People with families tend to be very strict with their rent payments. They know that if the rent is not paid, eviction is a possibility. This is Nairobi, a landlord could evict you at night with blatant disregard for your safety or the law. There is nothing you could do if he or she has connections. Hell, they do not even need connections. Money leads in this town, everyone else follows. An attached person will not want to risk this for their family. They will want to ensure every single one of their responsibility as a tenant is fulfilled. They will pay rent on time. They will not blast music at odd hours.


A person with children is not going to up and leave the premises haphazardly. They are not going to sneak out in the dead of night. They will not want to do anything that could jeopardize the safety of the children or be a bad example to them. A family man or lady will be responsible with how they move in and eventually out of the building. Families also do not move around a lot unnecessarily. It takes time for children to acclimatize to a new environment and parents put this into consideration so opt for longevity in their rentals.


There is something about having a family that instantly matures you. You start to think in a less juvenile way. You deal with issues with more diplomacy and care. Landlords expect that people with families will not constantly be in conflict with their neighbors. They expect that this person will handle their disagreements with care and not disrupt or disturb the other tenants. This is unlike a single person who does not exactly mind about the image they portray and will therefore openly and aggressively get into violent disagreements with very little provocation.

Impact on building image

When you walk into a building with children playing in the courtyard, the first thought in your mind is that this could be a home as opposed to a mere house. You will feel comfortable unless of course you do not like children then you will run for dear life. People with children of their own especially prefer a building with children to one without. Presence of children lets them now that it is a safe and nurturing environment. They are also comforted by the fact that their kids will make new friends. Families in a building will be impactful on decisions to commit to tenancy for prospects.

Unsavory activity

How often do adults with their own families take their debauchery home with them? How often do criminals with their own families invite their criminal friends and colleagues to their houses where their children sleep and live? Never. Any parent, even one that makes their living through crime, knows to protect their family. They know to keep their family from the dark. While landlords worry about criminal activity being carried out in their buildings all the time, by favoring families most the risk goes down significantly. With children constantly playing around the corridors, it would be hard for malicious parties to breach the building and burglarize units.


As a single person, how many times did you make sure to clean your balcony and house? How many times a week did you manage to come home early from work to clean? How much did you care if the stair case was a little dirty? However, as a person with a family you will ensure that the unit itself is very clean at all times. You will keep an eye on areas like the staircase where your children play. You will keep an eye on wet floors along the corridors. This kind of caution will keep the caretaker on toes to ensure that these areas are clean and safe for the children in the building.


The study found that landlords thought that attached people caused less damage to their units than the single ones. This is a weird way of thinking. If there are children in a unit then should you not expect more damage like broken panes from rough play? Despite this logic, it seems the perception is that single people destroy more things than children. Maybe it could be because an attached person will be keen to repair or replace whatever is broken to prevent injury and also remain on the landlord’s good side. If a single person is asked to repair something before moving out they could simply slip out at night, right?

Some landlords will come right out and say that they prefer attached tenants. Others will only leave it in the fine print. Some do not care at all provided the money comes in when it is supposed to. To reiterate, these reasons are not the situation on the ground. They are merely perceptions or rather a stereotype about single tenants. Do you agree with the perceptions?