Cash-strapped Lagosians call out Sanwo-Olu on monthly rent policy

As the economy bites harder and household income continues to shrink, Lagos residents who live in rented accommodation have called the attention of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the state’s proposed monthly rent policy, wondering what is delaying its implementation.

The monthly rent policy was meant to commence in January this year but seven months after, nothing has been heard from government circles on the implementation of the policy.

“This was a government policy that I particularly looked forward to its implementation because at no other time than now, when income is shrinking and inflation has diminished whatever is left in our pockets as consumers, is that policy needed,” Sunday Urama, a resident living in the Afromedia area of Lagos, said.

Urama urged Sanwo-Olu to ensure the implementation of the policy as a way of reducing the burden which the current state of Nigeria’s economy has placed on the people, especially those in the low-income class.

“Please, help me tell Sanwo-Olu to start implementing the monthly rent policy they promised would commence in January this year. This is July and we are not hearing anything about that policy and our condition is getting worse. Landlords will always tell you they don’t want any story,” Fadaini Joseph, another Lagos resident, said.

Joseph said that in spite of the prevailing economic condition, his landlord was asking him to pay one-year rent. “I live in an old three-bedroom apartment where I pay N450,000 per annum. Now, I have four months’ salary arrears where I work. Tell me, how do I pay this rent?” he lamented.

Like Urama, Joseph wants Sanwo-Olu to go back to the rent policy and do something about it, stressing that monthly rent is the only way tenants can continue to keep their accommodation at a time like this in Nigeria.

Late last year, the governor told Lagos residents that the state had decided to implement a monthly rent policy starting from January this year. Though some people doubted its workability, the state government insisted that it would work.

Rabiu Olowo, the state’s commissioner for finance, said: “It is a policy many tenants in the city want; the state government did a rental survey and found out that 88 per cent of tenants would rather pay their rent monthly.

“We had to pursue this by working with different relevant stakeholders and we now have a model that will work and enable Lagosians to pay their rent monthly; landlords have nothing to lose because they will continue to receive their rent yearly and their default risk is zero.”

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Toke Benson-Awoyinka, special adviser to the governor on housing, has at any given opportunity spoken convincingly about the one-month rent policy of the state government.

At a Lagos Real Estate Market Place event, Benson-Awoyinka explained that the new initiative would greatly ease the burden of yearly payment on residents, saying landlords would, however, get their annual payment of house rent upfront, while tenants would no longer have the burden of yearly payment of a huge amount of money.

“Tenants can therefore use the yearly payment for other forms of investments or for payment of school fees as the burden of payment of yearly rent is taken away from them completely. So, it is a win-win social investment scheme; it is a good one and it is applaudable,” she said.

Tunde Balogun, co-founder and CEO for proptech platform, Rent Small Small, said it was easy to assume that Nigerians would like to pay their rents upfront for one or two years in some cases.

“This is because that has always been the pattern, considering that it is what the landlords want. This time, however, it is amazing to see that a lot more Nigerians want something different from the norm,” he said.

According to Balogun, in a country like Nigeria, where it appears to be commonplace for families to experience constant pressures ranging from sourcing annual house rent, paying annual/quarterly school fees to footing basic bills, it is not surprising that this cycle is not one that millennials want to continue as adults.

He cited a survey his platform carried out, which polled 1,389 adults about their renting pattern and preferences. “The survey found that 851 of these people are youths between 20 and 40, who are working-class professionals, and are seeking to occupy one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio apartments,” he said.

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