FG Tells Landlords To Reduce Payment On Accommodation

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has charged property developers to bring down the charge on house rents and the value of properties in consideration of the present economic crunch across the country.

The Minister on Tuesday, May 30, gave the charge while speaking at the inauguration of board members of the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria in Abuja.

He added that the value of properties and house rents in other nations of the world are being reduced because of the rough economic situation being experienced globally.

According to Fashola, many houses in Nigeria are empty as a result of unaffordable house rents while a lot of people are in need of accommodation.

He said:

“For me, I think the most important message I’ll like to share at this inauguration is to pose the question on whether the current land valuation system and values are consistent with the reality of our economy. You as experts must answer that question because we have a very challenging economy.

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“Just recently, I checked the property markets in some other jurisdictions and because there is a global economic slowdown, what we see is that people are offering discounts in order to ensure optimum occupancy. But I’m not sure that the practice is the same here.

“So are these values consistent with the realities? Why are we not seeing rates, rents, and values drop? Why are we having many houses unoccupied when people are looking for accommodation? The argument sometimes has been that properties are valued higher so that it can have an impact on percentages and commissions.”

Mr. Babatunde Fashola further told members of the board to work in alliance with the Federal Government in providing answers to these questions, stressing that they must put into consideration, the prevalent economic situation in the country while coming up with answers.

The Minister made it clear, that the board must work out ways of dealing with the problem of high house rents and advance payments, especially in major cities in Nigeria.

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“Let me just ask you a question since everybody is here; is there nothing that 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, because we can’t continue like this,” the minister said.

Responding to the words of the Minister, Mr. Olayinka Sonaike, Chairman, ESVARBON, explained that property developers were under a lot of pressure from lenders with regards to the repayment of loans and that is one of the factors which usually forces them to ask for payment of house rent in advance.

While Sonaike stated that the situation would not be the same if there were substantial mortgage loans from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for developers, another member of the board called for a legislation that would mandate landlords to comply.

However, the housing Minister maintained that the onus is on property developers to come up with ingenious methods of dealing with the situation, adding that there was more to handling the issue than passing a law to that effect.

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His words:

“We must first of all question the practice, look at its strengths and weaknesses and its damage on 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 price 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?”

The Chairman, nevertheless, urged the minister to work jointly with ESVARBON, most especially in the construction of housing units in each state of the federation.

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