Lagos moves to boost confidence in its major asset
In a bid to boost confidence in its major asset, which is land, Lagos State government has reduced time for registering property and also for obtaining construction permit.
The state has consolidated all payment fees and taxes for property registration into a single demand notice with the aim of making doing business in the state a lot easier and even ‘cheaper.’
The sprawling city has also strengthened real estate transaction regulations with the setting up a 16-man technical committee piloted by the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority (LASRERA).
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, shortly after assuming office in 2019, reversed the Land Use Charge, which raised enormous dust when it was reviewed upwards, to pre-2018 levels.
The implication of these moves is not only that they enhance ease of doing business in the state, which is an otherwise difficult business environment, but also to boost investors’ confidence and raise public trust in real estate and land-related business in the state.
The consolidation of the property registration fees, for instance, has led to the reduction in the number of days required to obtain Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) and Governor’s Consent. This has come down from 72 to 61 days, according Hakeem Okunola, the state’s Head of Service (HoS).
The state’s e-planning platform has also been activated for the submission of all construction permit applications such that the fee procedures and laws are now on the website, while there is also a reduction in the average number of days for obtaining construction permit from 42 to 28 days.
These steps are of tremendous assistance to investors who, before now, have been finding it difficult getting property registration and construction permit. It was worse for those of them who were exposed to bank credit as their projects could not take off yet interest on the loans were running.
The HoS, who spoke at the annual ministerial briefing to mark Sanwo-Olu’s second year in office, explained that the decision to take these steps was a response to continuous demand from stakeholders in the built environment through the state’s online complaints and feedback—the Citizengate.
At the inaugural meeting of members of the technical committee on regulation, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, special adviser to the Governor on Housing, explained that the committee’s mandate was to design a policy and fiscal framework, institute and promote global best practices in the sector.
She added that the committee had the mandate of addressing challenges in the sector with particular attention to reforming homeownership model to increase housing stock and reduce the deficit.
Lagos, according to a report by the Pison Housing Company, has an estimated 3 million housing demand-supply gap with a very active rental market where over 50 percent of the state’s 20 million population lives in a rented apartment.
It is, therefore, hoped that a well-regulated real estate market and a friendly business environment that enables more investment in the sector would lead to increased housing stock and less ‘homelessness.’
Benson-Awoyinka noted that one of the lessons learnt from COVID-19 pandemic was the need to create and develop a robust housing policy with stakeholder involvement and engagement as well as curtail malpractices in the real estate sector, while also improving financial transparency and fiscal responsibility.
“To achieve its objective, the committee will be required to set up a comprehensive system and framework, which will prioritise the development of a fiscal responsibility and transparency model, to promote the inflow of local and international funding required to confront the housing deficit.
“The committee will also set up a governance structure that will oversee the entire real estate framework and stakeholder engagement in the state to minimise trust deficit,” she said
The special adviser explained that the structure would cater to the entire system of the real estate process and incorporate participation from private developers, financial institutions and the government in a Public-Private Partnership model.