• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Fresh hurdles on the way to registering property in Lagos worry investors

More affordable luxury underway as developer launches Beverly Hills

Although the Lagos State government is making efforts to encourage investment in real estate and improve the ease of doing business in that sector, investors are still uncomfortable with the multiple requirements that the state demands for registering property.

When, in January this year, the state launched a land administration portal, some of the reasons for that initiative, according to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor, were to improve the ease of doing business, fast-track property registering process, reduce corruption in the process and ensure security of titles and operations.

But with 17 steps for registering property which involves multiple agencies of government, some of which are new additions, real estate developers are saying the state is not only discouraging investment but also hurting investors and “making ease of doing business in the state uneasy.”

According to the investors, these 17 different steps contrast with what obtains in mature property markets like London where a developer has only 9 steps to go through and does so from the comfort of his office or home. This ensures minimal or no interface with state officials.

“Nigeria needs to cut down on the bottlenecks in giving approvals to developers, especially as it concerns the requirements to meet for planning, thereby fostering diaspora investment,” Gbenga Olaniyan, chairman of Estate Links, said in Lagos recently.

Read also: Lagos leads: 5 African cities with the least affordable real estate in 2024

The 2023 Nigeria Subnational Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Report has shed light on the varying degrees of business-friendliness across different states in the country. The report’s indicators and data collection methods and metrics were clearly defined within six indicators, including infrastructure, transparency and accessibility of information, skills and labour, secure and stable environment, regulatory environment, and economic opportunity.

According to the report compiled by Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), “overall EoDB satisfaction in Nigeria has seen marginal improvement, but dissatisfaction remains.”

Gboyega Familehin, the founding partner of Diya, Fatimilehin & Co, believes that Nigeria has the potential to be a global leader but challenges like corruption, poor infrastructure, security concerns, and limited economic diversification are hindering the country’s progress.

Using London as a case study, Olaniyan said: “You have nine different requirements. So, you conceptualise your drawings, pay a fee online, the local authorities will acknowledge, register and it goes all the way to discharging conditions. But in Lagos, we have 17 different steps, which is almost double those of London.”

In Lagos, he said, there are several agencies that a developer has to see for approvals, including the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority otherwise known as Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA); Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC); Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development (MPPUD); Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).

There are also other agencies such as Lagos State Fire Service (LSFS) (for a building that is just being constructed); Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON); Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA); Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LSWRC); Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS).

“Very recently, another law came up that even for the signage in front of your property, showing who all the consultants are, you have to go to Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), pay some money and get your permit to put up the signage,” Olaniyan noted.

He cited what happens in London where developers put together all their documents and submit them online, pay online and they go through his paperwork, and if everything is in order, he gets an email that he can start his construction.

“But if you’ve got problems, they come back to you, and inform you of the changes that you need to make, and then you send a mail back to them when you’re ready, and they come for inspection,” he said.

Experts are of the view that the cumbersome processes that define property registration in many states of Nigeria affect not only the economy of the respective states, but also that the country as a whole. This bellies all the claims by politicians across the country on the dividends of democracy.

“Our economic trajectory has been disturbing. As at 1962, our GDP was $4.91 billion which was more than the GDP of South Korea which stood at $2.24 billion at that time. While we are still hovering around $400 billion, South Korea is now around $1.7 trillion with a per capita income of $33,170 compared with our own $1,700,” according to Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of Ondo State.

Mimiko, who was once a minister of Housing and Urban Development, said Nigeria is plagued with capacity and financial deficits hindering its development as a nation, noting that economic development can only be possible when there is security of lives and property, attributing the low investment in the country to rising insecurity, among other things.