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article imageNigerians narrate hardship involved in renting a house in Lagos Special

By Samuel Okocha     Mar 22, 2012 in World
The housing deficit in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has left residents at the mercy of landlords and agents who charge prohibitive amounts for rent to be paid in advance of two years. Residents narrate their experiences to Digital Journal.
“At least for the last two years now I have been trying to get a befitting flat to stay in", Abdul Semiu, a civil servant tells Digital Journal. “In terms of availability, I have not been able to secure one, mainly because of the activities of agents.”
He said: “In most cases, we will be asked to pay 2 years in arrears or even pay 3 years in advance, not many people have such amount."
Another resident shared a similar experience.
“The cost of getting accommodation in Lagos is very highly sky rocketed, a situation whereby a 2 bedroom flat goes for 350,000 Naira [around $2200] per year with agent and agreement", said Cynthia, who searched for two years before settling in a new place with her newly wed husband. "At times, agent and agreement fees are even more than the cost of renting the house,” she added.
According to Destiny, a resident who lives with his parents for now, some agents are taking unfair advantage of the seeming desperation of those looking for a house.
“Most of these agents are not sincere, some of them are fraudulent,’’ he said. “You could pay for a house and you will be given a wrong key and you go there and they tell you it has been given out to somebody.”
Reducing the burden of renting a house through Lagos Tenancy Law
The government of Lagos, last year, passed the law requiring landlords to collect only a year advance rent while a sitting tenant pays not more than 3 months rent advance.
But even with the law, Semiu says “they don’t seem to comply. What is on the ground is to the contrary. Many landlords and agents are asking for 2 years in advance of rentage which has made it difficult for many people to get a befitting accommodation.”
Rent, an economic or legal issue
The law of demand and supply means government may do little to enforce the law, creating a trend that has become an economic issue and not a legal one.
“The interesting thing about the law is that it is the economy that is enforcing it and not the government,” Chuka Uroko, Lagos based reporter, wrote on Businessdayonline. “Today, not many people can pay two years' rent because the economy is down and biting everybody hard.”
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