More troubles for households as landlords hike rents further
Landlords in major cities in Nigeria are increasing house rents, even as many households are grappling with surging food prices as well as the rise in transportation and energy costs.
In the last six months, the rental market has seen many landlords and tenants engage in hot arguments over rent increases. Many tenants have started adjusting to their new rents while those that have just been served notice of increases are pondering on the next move to make.
In Lagos, the rental market has seen about a 30 percent increase across the board while tenants in serviced apartments are groaning under the weight of both rents and service charges.
The households caught in this web are mostly those whose rents expired in May and June and are, therefore, due for renewal. Those whose rents will expire later in the year still have their fate hanging in the balance.
Henry Emenike is a tenant living in a three-bedroom flat in Oke-Afa, a Lagos suburb where he has been paying N450,000 per annum. His rent is expiring by the end of this June and just last Wednesday, his landlord served him a notice of rent increase to N650,000 per annum.
“It all looked vague to me; I thought the man was just joking but he was not. Since it was his caretaker that served me the notice, I decided to call the man to find out if he knew about the increase. His answer was in the affirmative. Now, what do I do to pay this and still be able to feed my family?” Emenike said.
BusinessDay findings reveal that across Lagos and especially in the suburbs, landlords are increasing house rents in the name of rising costs to levels that have left many tenants worried.
In Ijesha, Surulere, rent for a one-bedroom self-contained has moved from N200,000 per annum to between N300,000 and N350,000 per annum, depending on the age of the building. A two-bedroom flat now goes for between N400,000 and N500,000 per annum, also depending on the age of the house.
On Lagos Island, rents are relatively more stable and that, according to Godwin Essien, an estate manager, is because tenants are mostly on longer lease while some rents are dollar-denominated.
“This does not, however, mean that rents don’t increase here. They do, but not as frequent and uncontrolled as what you get on the Mainland, mostly in the suburban areas where landlords are kings,” Essien said.
In Ibadan, rents have also gone up considerably and, according to Osunyomi Adetiba, who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in the Orita Challenge area of the city, his rent, beginning from July this year, will be N500,000, up from N350,000 per annum.
“This is a house I rented first at N120,000. The increase had been gradual but came with this steep increase just this year. My landlord says cost of maintenance has gone up because cost of building materials has also gone up,” Adetiba lamented while responding to questions from BusinessDay.
According to him, depending on whether it’s a new house or not, its proximity to a major road and the kind of neighbourhood it has, a two-bedroom flat goes for between N300,000 and N400,000 per annum.
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The story from Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State, is not any different or better. From the N220,000 he paid last year, Chijama Udaya told BusinessDay that his current rent is now N350,000 per annum for a three-bedroom flat that is not even in the centre of the city.
“I don’t know what landlords want. Everybody is lamenting. It is everywhere and this is coming at this time when the cost of everything has gone up. When will things get better in this country,” he wondered, hoping that Nigerians would get it right when choosing their next leaders.
In a country where the rental market is very active, it means that a good percentage of the population is affected by this jolting development. Records show that about 80 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 200 million population live in rented apartments.
The record also estimates that these renters spend 50 percent of their incomes on house rents.
These same people are the ones hardest hit by the soaring prices of foodstuff, diesel, cooking gas, and transportation. From N600, the price of a small paint bucket (painter) has moved up to N1,200 in just six months. 5kg of Semovita is now N3,500, up from N2,000 in December 2021.
From between N300 and N350, the price of one litre of diesel has soared to N750,000. The story is worse for cooking gas. When the price of kerosene became unaffordable for many households, everybody switched to gas as a cheaper and cleaner energy.
The price of gas, which was about N370-N400/kg in December 2021, is now N850/kg.