The new tenancy bill passed by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola may have sounded very attractive, but investigations conducted by this reporter have revealed otherwise. The bill which bars Lagos landlords from collecting more than one year rent from an intending tenant and six months for old tenants has raised a lot of dust ever since.
It’s been close to a year since the bill was passed, but the information gathered shows that landlords have hiked rent to cover up for the loss allegedly incurred. Here’s a breakdown of what rent was like before the bill. A self-contain apartment, depending on your choice area, costs at least N80,000 and you will be expected to pay two years. Sometimes without the usual agency commission, which is between 30 to 40 thousand naira. A mini flat, before now, went for N120,000 and since one is expected to pay for two years, it will amount to N240,000, excluding agency and agreement fees. For a two or three bedroom apartment, depending also on your location, at least 180, 250, 300, 000 are needed. However, ON Point! gathered that things are not the same any more. The prices are almost doubled, because landlords are angry. Said an estate agent in Magodo.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje, when contacted, had this to say: “There has been so much furore about the Lagos state tenancy bill, what has the government been doing about its monitoring?
Well, Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 is a Law, so it’s incumbent and included for all parties to obey the law. Going against the law is an offence. The people that have been going to the media house ought to know where to go to. The law basically is to regulate the relationship between the tenant and the landlord and it also covers them. So, if a party is going against the law, it is the duty of the other party to seek succour at either the court, Citizen Meditation Center, Ministry of Justice or come to the Ministry of Housing to report. If you don’t make a report, there is no way we that are sitting down here would know that a party has flouted the law. Unless you make a report, that is when we will be able to impose the law accordingly.
Most of these landlords do argue that it is the government that built their houses for them, how do you address this?
Yes, it is not the government that built those houses for them, but the law that is meant for every citizen to obey is in place. Whether it is your house or not, the law is no way a respecter of anybody. So, you can’t hide under the fact that you are a house owner; you must obey the law that regulates housing in your state.
Have you handled any of such cases here before?
Yes, we have several cases. Some people have been bold enough to come to the office and we have advised the m on steps to take and it has really worked out fine. So the law is really functional. Of course, you have defiants who will not obey it, but I can assure you that the law will catch up with them.
Finally, what’s your advice to landlords and tenants on this issue?
The law is in place and it protects both the landlords and the tenants. So, if the landlord believes his or her tenant is flouting the law, he can make a report. So also the tenant can do the same to their landlord and the law will take its course.