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Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past minister of works and housing under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, on Thursday in Lagos, revisited monthly rents in states which he pursued with passion as governor of Lagos State.
Fashola who spoke at the launch of his book, ‘Nigerian Public Discourse: The Intersection of Empirical Evidence and Hyperbole,’ in Lagos, canvassed a reevaluation of tenancy regulations in the states.
As governor of Lagos, Fashola in August 2011 signed a Tenancy Law in the state seeking to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants in the state.
The Lagos tenancy law says that any landlord that collects rent in excess of six months for a sitting tenant and one year from a new tenant will either be jailed for three months or pay N100.000 fine.
These were re-echoed in his submissions at the book launch as captured by Imran Muhamad, a Buharist, APC member, in his Twitter Handle where he quoted Fashola as expressing worry about the excessive burden placed on tenants when they are required to pay rent in advance for up to three years or more.
Fashola observed that the way rents were currently collected had resulted in a significant number of houses remaining unoccupied. This however underlines the former minister’s contention that Nigeria had no housing deficit which is variously put at 17, 20, 22 and 28 million units.
“That is not the only reason, but you have to understand how dramatic and painful that three, four or five years rent has become to our nation, yet we have not consciously done anything to it,” he noted.
Continuing, he said, “can we bring it down from three years to one year? Can we hopefully bring it down to six months? Can we let it coincide with when people get paid? At the end of the month instead of in advance?
Fashola harped on the importance of data as a good guide to understanding and improving on the housing situation in the country. According to him, “accurate data will help us determine how many we are, what amount of water we need, and what quantity of food is needed,” adding, “data makes this very important; accurate data, therefore, will be good for us.”
He was of the view that life without shortage of basic needs like food, water, shelter and energy will be a good life, stressing that data was critical to achieve that objective.
In signing the Lagos Tenancy Law, Fashola was persuasive and not combative. He said, “the issues at stake in the new laws are serious moral issues that require voluntary compliance rather than strict enforcement from government. The problem of corruption cannot be fought in the country with this kind of situation that requires a tenant to pay two or more years rent in advance.”
Because over 80 percent of the houses in Lagos were, and still are, private sector investments, the tenancy law did not have enough teeth to bite hard which was why it had limited success.
Fashola was not unmindful of this which was why he said, “the law protects both the tenants and the landlords, there is no need for the landlords and tenants to panic over the law as there are provisions in the law that makes it impossible for the tenant to be elusive and shy away from their obligations to the landlords.”Follow us on social media