For about three decades, the housing deficit in the country has caused a lot of Nigerians untold hardship worsened by the inability of government at all the levels to match their words with actions.
But the federal and state governments had in the past muted the idea of making tenants pay one year tenancy to landlords. This policy, no matter how laudable it is, could not see the light of day as tenants are still held on the jugular by landlords and landladies who will not collect anything less that two years rent.
It is therefore surprising that the same government that cannot enforce one year rent is planning monthly rent payment. Whether this is feasible, or not will definitely be known with time as there was no enforcement of the one year rent how much less monthly payments.
Recall that at the recently concluded sixth meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development (NCLHUD), the public was gladdened by the attention given to monthly payment of rents. The council is the highest gathering of senior officials from the federal and state governments, as well as stakeholders and experts in the built industry. At the meeting of permanent secretaries during the council, senior government officials from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as those from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Works/Housing sector), agreed to enact a law that would allow monthly rental payments across the country.
In a 52-page report on the meeting of permanent secretaries at the sixth NCLHUD, which was obtained by Daily Sun from the FMPWH in Abuja, the officials also resolved that the law would be enforced, as they noted that its enforcement would enhance access to housing finance.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, recently charged property developers to reduce their rents and the value of properties in consideration of the economic hardship across the country.
He advised them to work out ways of tackling the problem of high house rents and advance payments, particularly in major cities across the country.
Fashola had said, “let me just ask you a question since everybody is here. Is there nothing we can do in this country about this practice of demanding rent for two, three years in advance from people who get their salaries monthly in arrears? Is there nothing that can be done? We can’t continue like this.”
The Minister, while buttressing his argument, insisted that operators in the sector must question the practice, stressing that the increase in the cost of other commodities could also be as a result of high rents being charged by developers and landlords.
“We must first of all question the practice, look at its strengths and weaknesses and its damage to the entire economy. For instance, as a Minister, my salary is N900,000; so, when you ask me to go and bring rent for two years in advance that I have not earned, and I actually bring it, shouldn’t you start worrying? So, when you suddenly see that the prices of water, food, etc., begin to spike, are we really gaining? Because one way or the other, I’m going to get back what you collected from me. It’s a matter of conscience. Can you pay for a taxi before you board it?” he queried.
While addressing the gathering, the permanent secretaries from the relevant agencies in the federal and state governments resolved at the meeting to produce a law that would allow the monthly payment of rent.
The FMPWH submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the provision of adequate and affordable housing, the council noted that the “enactment of the law would allow monthly rental payments and its enforcement would enhance access to housing finance.”
They also upheld that the rent-to-own scheme of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), if included in the housing finance policy, would address the problem of poor access to housing finance.
They further recommended that all tiers of government should improve on intervention strategies to provide affordable housing, as well as provide enabling environment for active participation of the private sector in housing delivery.
The permanent secretaries urged the federal and state governments to consider all income groups in their housing delivery programmes, and to encourage the development of secondary mortgage market in order to strengthen mortgage refinancing.
Written by Maduka Nweke