by Ben Miishola
Housing costs in Nigeria have been high for many years. Aside from the fact that the cost of building materials is not for the faint of heart, finding a place to rest is becoming a daunting task in many parts of the country. For example, in the case of Ibadan, Oyo state, it costs between N450,000 to N500,000 to buy a two- or three-bedroom apartment near the ring road or Oluyor extension. This means that the total parcel will be between N550,000 and N700,000, the total parcel being the percentage of the agent who gets the apartment, the warning fee and some other fees required by the landlord or landlady. It’s much higher in areas like Bodija Estate and UI, where you can get a separate room and living room for as much as N1 million. This means that buying a two-bedroom apartment in these areas can cost as much as N1.5 million. Areas like Iwo Road still have houses worth between N200,000 and N350,000 a year. In areas like Felele, you can get a self-contained apartment with room and living room for N250,000, and a two-bedroom apartment for between N350,000 and N450,000. Three-bedroom apartments start at N500,000.
These prices exclude agency fees and other charges. In Omi Adio, prices start at N200,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. This would allow for an annual income of between N250,000 and N300,000 for a three bedroom apartment. Based on the current minimum wage, it’s easy to infer that only a handful of workers can afford to live in a reasonably decent apartment. In states such as Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, the situation is not much better. Mr. Sola, a trader at Orita Challenge in Ibadan, and his wife Bukola, a coaxial private school teacher who live in a two-bedroom apartment with their two children aged 7 and 5, lamented that the landlord had added five to their house. Rented three times a year. Although his landlord does not live in the country, he has an agent to convey his information to tenants. Mr. Sola paid N100,000 a year when he first got the house, but after five years, the rent increased to N250,000. He said he could no longer pay his rent and didn’t know what to do.
On the other hand, Mrs. Idoou, a widow who lives near the Iyana Church in Ibadan, said she has been trying to change residences due to rising rents. She said it was a bit hectic because the agents she had been speaking to showed her homes for between N250,000 and N350,000 a year. The total package is between N350,000 and N450,000. Her dilemma is that even working as a secretary in a real estate company, she cannot afford the expense at this time. Her current rent is currently N150,000 per annum but it is far away from her place of work. For Mr Kehinde, who has just increased his rent from N100,000 to N200,000, it is not the landlord’s fault that buying an apartment is a hassle. They are homeowners with money-making intentions. According to him, the price is too small. The house in question had no pump, just a well; it also had no prepaid meter. This is a building of four 3 bedroom apartments with bathrooms, located near the Monatan area, also in Ibadan, it should be 30 or 40 years old. When asked why he did not consider the fact that it was not a new house, his answer was that at this point in time, even at this price, many people would still “grab”.
The above shows that at this time, the issue of accommodation is an issue that the government should be concerned about. A lot of landlords don’t even acknowledge the fact that while owning their home, tenants have some legal rights and they should let people loose. Some of them have outrageous rules like “no generators from one time of day to another, no visitors etc (don’t mind where you work) and many other inhumane rules. Seems like none People protect the interests of the masses in this regard. The experiences of those who share their experiences above are similar to those of many other Nigerians. The prices given by housing agents with landlords and landladies are amazing. Quite a few Nigerians find it difficult to pay the huge sums Rent, this is mainly because some people are barely making ends meet. Feeding costs have been high over the years and the priority for most families is food. While many Nigerians manage to feed their families and provide their children with other necessities such as clothing and education ), there is hardly enough to fill other necessities.
With the rate at which housing costs are rising across the country, it is appropriate to ask the government to create an agency to devise a way to regulate housing rents in each state. Homeowners should be made to insist on reasonable housing rents that people can afford no matter what class they belong to. The government can also try to build low cost housing for citizens so that every Nigerian can afford to live in it. The recent news that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has excluded most of the primary mortgage lenders from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to provide Nigerians with further access to National Housing Fund (NHF) loans has been disconcerting. Some Nigerians are already able to access housing through the scheme, and stopping its operation could cause more damage to the housing sector. The government can restore effective mortgage lending policies to stimulate the sector and improve its development. It will also encourage everyone to commit seriously to improving people’s lives.
The private real estate developers that have sprung up all over the country, many of them are robbing the hard-earned money of the common people under the circumstances of many difficulties, should be strictly controlled at this time. Nigerians are falling victim to the shenanigans of these developers for losing money to them. The government should institute stricter measures to check the excesses of these companies and better determine their authenticity. The central government should also study the high cost of building materials and come up with cheap ways to make them available to ordinary people. If a considerable number of citizens can build their own houses, that would be icing on the cake.
- Ishola is on the staff of the Nigerian Tribune.