Urithi Property Scam: Thousands of Kenyans have lost millions in the latest property scandal. The scandal involves Urithi Housing Co-operative.
According to a report that appeared in the Daily Nation, over 32,000 members of the co-operative are counting their losses. These include buyers who had taken bank loans to finance their purchases.
“The losses run into billions of shillings, Urithi having run out of lies to feed its investors. Some have waited for more than eight years, and are coming to terms with the fact that they have lost their investment,” says the report. Urithi was founded by among others David Gakuyo Ngari who broke out in 2013 and formed Gakuyo Real Estate, another firm that is currently embroiled in fraud claims amounting to over Sh. 1 billion.
The company though say been disputing reports on its collapse, with its chairman, Samuel Maina, saying that the co-operative had profiled every project to give clear timelines and deliverables. “Over 30 land projects are in good progress and their title deeds shall be delivered in a few months. We have set up a robust communication desk to contact each of the members based on their obligations or payment status,” he was quoted as saying.
According to the report in the Daily Nation, unsuspecting investors were drawn to the projects by enticing adverts, well-planned trips to view the land, with mega ground breaking ceremonies and artistic impressions of what their future homes would look like. Some were taken to Malindi more than five years ago, accommodated in a posh hotel and then driven 20 kilometres to be shown the land that they were buying.
“Urithi then asked for fencing and title processing money, but after being paid, the sales agents disappeared and blocked customers’ calls. The promise was that they would own the homes within a relatively short time and the payment schedules only sweetened the deal. So they trooped in their thousands to join the co-operative. Now they are in tears as they realise that they were duped into buying air. Most agents who sold properties on behalf of the co-operative have also vanished,” said the report.
Last year, Panorama Gardens, located in Gatanga, a few minutes’ drive from Blue Post Hotel in Thika, was put up for auction by a local bank. Apparently, Urithi Housing had acquired this land in 2016 — after agreeing to finance a defaulted loan that the previous owner had with the bank. They paid him Sh. 1 billion and took over his bank liabilities, agreeing to repay the bank the Sh. 500 million balance in five years.
Panorama Gardens was marketed and sold by Urithi as ready plots for immediate development and attracted 400 investors, with an eighth of an acre going for Sh. 2.25 million. The investors now claim they cannot develop the property because most of them have never been issued with title deeds while some are only in possession of ownership certificates or agreements they entered with Urith.