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To own a house in Nigeria is quite an achievement, especially when it’s an apartment that is up for rent or lease. Due to the very high cost of housing in Nigeria, there is this rush to become a landlord. This has created both positive and negative effects.

Recently, at the 35th annual general meeting and international symposium of Shelter Afrique in Abuja, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria represented by the Minister of the FCT declared that the country might be facing a crisis in the housing sector.

According to him, “Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people an annual population growth rate of 3.5 percent requires a minimum of additional one million housing units per annum to reduce the much acclaimed national deficit of about 17 million housing unit in order to avert a housing crisis by the year 2020.” He continued, stating “the problem of housing the urban poor is not entirely new and I believe that different efforts must have been deployed in the past to confront it. But even today, the problem is still with us. Such reality challenges us to reassess our methodologies and evolves fresh strategies to meet the challenges of these times.”

So yes, it is a good thing when most people build houses for rent as these goes a long way to averting the looming housing crisis, especially in urban areas. Two issues though have arisen in the housing sector that begs for a review of the policies surrounding housing and tenancy in Nigeria.

First is the exorbitant cost of tenancy in the country especially in the urban areas. For a country with a minimum wage of ₦18,000, renting an apartment in the city seems to be something not meant for the common man. A basic 3 bedroom flat in a comfortable area in Lagos goes for about ₦700,000 to ₦1.2million per annum and this is not inclusive of the agent and legal fees one has to part with and also putting into consideration that most landlord now requests for a two-year advance rent from new tenants.

Looking at the above figure, you begin to wonder how the masses will be able to afford this based on the aforementioned minimum wage. And this issues doesn’t seem to be letting up as the cost of tenancy is a geometric progression.

Secondly, in a bid to join the landlord association, most houses are not properly constructed and this has led to a rise in buildings (both completed and uncompleted) collapsing and taking the lives of innocent Nigerians. Whether this is the fault of the owner or contractor has not yet been ascertained. This problem which is now at an alarming rate is causing a state of panic among Nigerians especially because there is no prior warning it now seems any building could collapse and the response time of emergency services is still very poor.

This is, therefore, a call to the Federal Government to take a thorough look into the housing sector to review the policies surrounding tenancy and find a balance between the cost of housing and also to find a way to checkmate the recurrent case of building collapsing and ensure quality assurance check on ongoing construction projects

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This article was first published on 4th June 2016


Muna is a software programmer and developer with a passion for technology.

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