By John Ikani
Hard times await Shylock Landlords in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, as the Senate works on legislation to regulate rents from one, two or three years first payment by tenants, to three months and subsequent monthly payments.
The planned legislation is contained in a bill sponsored to that effect by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) and passed first reading in Senate during plenary on Tuesday.
Adeyemi, who briefed journalists on details on the bill, said it is targeted at cushioning the effect of outrageous rents on properties on poor residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to the lawmaker, the bill when fully considered and passed into law, will regulate rent collections from tenants to three months at first instance and subsequent monthly payments as against one, two or three years first payment being collected by property owners now with subsequent yearly rent payment renewal.
Adeyemi said that the bill also seeks to ensure that tenants are not ejected until after 6 months if they were not able to pay, noting that it was important to put laws in place to protect the majority of Nigerians, who are poor.
What the lawmaker is saying
“Many residents of FCT are finding it very difficult to cope with huge rent payment , the reason why many of the Houses built for such purposes are empty.
”The law is targeted at welfare and wellbeing of the downtrodden , majority of whom elected those holding public positions into offices.
“Some landlords always insist their tenants pay for one year or two years rent. That is wrong. By this bill, Nigerians especially Abuja residents will now be paying rent on monthly basis after the expiration of the initial three months.
“The law we are proposing stipulates a maximum advanced rent payment of three months. After the expiration of the three months rent, the tenants are expected to pay monthly.
“There are many tenants whose salaries are competing with their rents because they live in cities like Abuja,” he said.
When reminded of the scenario that played out in Lagos when Governor Marwa implemented similar law met with stiff resistance from landlords, Senator Adeyemi, said the law being proposed will take care of such resistance by providing window of petitioning for any tenants forced to pay rents above three months.
“Most Nigerians need the protection of the law to be able to meet their basic needs after paying rents.
“Many landlords did not secure loans to build their houses, they are products of free money they acquire from the system, yet they make lives difficult for poor Nigerians who do not have such privilege of making ill-gotten money from the system and put up structures,” he added.
What you should know
Recall that in a similar circumstance, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had in July 2021, suggested the collection of three-month rent by landlords and property owners as against the collection of three years rent which he said made housing unaffordable for Nigerians in urban centres.
Fashola had urged state governments to intervene in the management of rent because as long as people have to pay three years rent from salaries that are earned monthly in arrears, there will be the problem of affordability.
He noted that if you brought it to like three months in advance, there is something still called salary advance in the private sector, then people will be able to afford it