Seven years of disappointing condominium ownership 

Kamya started noticing that his ceiling was absorbing water and eventually started leaking. It eventually imploded into the condo one night, when fortunately the occupants were away. PHOTOS | ROLLAND KAMYA

What you need to know:

  • The condominium contract states that all problems found on the property must be reported in the first year so that the developer rectifies them at his own cost. Any problems that arise after the Defects Liability Period (DLP), the condo owners must rectify them at their own cost. 

Rolland Kamya had returned from Kenya for a short work leave in 2017 when he first considered buying a condominium. Living in one in Nairobi, Kamya was receptive to the idea of owning one in Kampala, for when he would eventually returned home for good. 

A condominium was particularly attractive to him because the other option would require his presence to supervise construction and other obligations.  But because he lived and worked out of the country, this option was off the table. 

One day, Kamya got the opportunity to check out some condominiums in Naalya, with a friend who was planning to get one.  

“I liked the property. The most surprising aspect was the price. It was so low for a place in Naalya. So I contacted the developer’s agent and eventually visited the Universal Multi-Purpose Enterprises Limited offices. After looking at the payment plan and looking through the process, I decided to commit,” he says. 

Kamya bought a three bedroom condominium at Bright Star Apartments, Naalya, at Shs188 million. This, he says, was a very attractive price because others were going for Shs300 million and above. The payment plan required him to fully pay for the home in about 15 months. 

Poor workmanship

Kamya admits that when he initially visited the property to ‘test-drive’, he could see they had used an incompetent mason to erect install fixtures. 

“Some of the electrical wall sockets were plastered over; you could see some of them had been covered over with plaster.  The light switches were askew, upside down, and so on. At that time, I felt these were simple things I could easily change, so I went ahead and decided to buy. I was getting a house in a great neighbourhood at a good price, that is what mattered,” he says. 

Collapsed ceiling
In hindsight, the cheap finishing works and fixtures were red flags that should have been taken seriously. Soon after moving into the apartment, Kamya started seeing cracks in the ceiling.

And when it rained, water would leak through the cracks because his building has a slab roof and his condo is on the top floor. The leaks, he beilieves were a sign that the slab roof had not been properly waterproofed. 

“The ceiling started leaking in the first year. This was so disappointing. It got worse  until one rainy night it collapse. Luckily, my cousin who lived in the condo at the time worked night shifts so when the ceiling came down, he was out. He came back home at 3am, he noticed the slab had imploded on the bed where he usually slept,” he says.

The ceiling collapsed in 2021, five years into the ownership. The developer, later offered to redo the ceiling even if it was long after the one year defect liability period (DLP).  

Kamya insisted on finding his own mason to do the job because he did not trust them to rectify a problem their negligent work had created. 

“Two other apartments in the same property have had the same problem with collapsing ceilings. There are some apartments where the water from the bathroom above them leaks into their apartment. I know for certain one of the apartments on the second floor has this problem. They just did not waterproof the property,” he says.

Redoing the bathroom

Kamya was forced to redo his bathroom because “they had used very funny tiles”. 

“The mason who helped me redo the bathroom told me I had to redo the plastering as well because the original plaster could not be trusted to withstand the weight of the new tiles. He warned that they would fall off eventually. So I had to re-plaster the whole place because the cement-sand ratio in the original plaster was wrong,” he says. 

Faulty swimming pool

The swimming pool at Bright Star was built too close to the wall of the building and they did not do much to waterproof it. The water from the pool was leaking into the apartment nearest to it so the only option was to empty it to save the building. 

“The pool is one of the major repairs that must be done on the property. The expert’s report put the repair of the pool at Shs20m. It cannot be filled with water again before it is waterproofed and retiled,” Kamya says.


The condominium contract states that all problems found on the property must be reported in the first year so that the developer rectifies them at his own cost. It is called Defects Liability Period (DLP). 

Any problems that arise after the DLP, the condo owners must rectify them at their own cost. This means that as it stands now, people such as Kamya are bound by the contract to suffer in silence. No redress can come their way. 

What made the case of Bright Star Apartments even more complicated is that the home owners cut ties with the developer’s property management company within the DLP.  Cutting off the developer’s property management income stream made the developer even less interested in honouring the terms of the DLP. 

“After we created an association of owners, we kicked them out because we were not happy with their work ethic. And they did not take our decision lightly. They wanted to continue managing the place because it was a source of extra income for the developer,” he says. 

Cost of repairs 

The cost of rectifying all the problems with the three blocks at Bright Star Apartments has been estimated to be at least Shs145 million. This is according a report by the expert that the home owners hired to do preliminary investigations, to find the problems that need to be rectified. Most of the repairs will go to rectifying waterproofing problems. The flat roof that was not waterproofed puts the buildings at the mercy of the elements. The other major problem is the finishing works and the substandard electrical wiring. 

“The pool alone will cost more than Shs20m to do. These are not things you can excuse the developer over simply because the DLP has passed. So we are asking the developer to contribute to the cost of repair because some of the problems are inexcusable,” Kamya says. 

Structural integrity

Fortunately, from the report that was done by the expert, the structural integrity of the buildings is sound. The repairs will mostly be cosmetic.

“In Kenya, I once lived in an apartment where you could hear whatever was going on in the next apartment because the walls were too thin. At least this is not the case here. The walls seem to be thick and strong. So I believe that the structural integrity of the property may be sound. At least that is the hope,” he says.

Kamya says after redoing his bathroom, water proofing the roof and plastering the ceiling, he feels comfortable in the house. “I have not seen any more problems, thank God,” he says. 

Way forward

Kamya says him and his fellow home owners at Bright Star are not too hopeful about getting compensation from the developer. Even going to court is, apparently not on the table as things stand. 

But he says many condo owners are compelled to speak up so that people have more information about the state of the industry.

“At this point, we do not even care, even if they do not help us with the repairs. We now want to shine a light on what is going on so that the people planning to buy these properties come knowing the problems,” he says.

“Because the same developers are constructing other properties in the same locality, which have more floors than ours. So if the developers continue doing such shoddy work, with time it is going to cause a tragedy. Even if we do not get redress, it is important they do better work going forward,” he adds. 

While appearing before the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Beti Olive Kamya-Turomwe over  similar claims,  Simon Kakama, the legal counsel for Universal Properties said:  “Home owners must reflect amongst themselves, that they are not doing their responsibility. You could have the best structure in the world, but if it is not maintained, it will fall apart, in even less than a year. But if  maintenance is done, which the owners are ignoring, then their issues may not be fixed. So let the developer be assessed, but let the owners as well do their responsibility.”