Speaking the Nations Mind

Fashola Bemoans Excessive Rent Demanded By Property Owners

Housing Delivery in Covid-19 Era and Beyond: The Strategies for Affordability and Accessibility

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has decried the rate of excessive rent extortion and acquiring properties by land owners.

The Minister, speaking at the 9th meeting of the National Council for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, on Thursday in Jos, said the situation got more prevalent during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister, represented by the minister of state for housing, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, pointed out that excess demand for housing in urban areas is the cause of price hike and scarcity impeding affordability and accessibility.

He said acquiring and leasing properties can be made affordable and accessible, through installment payments, saying “a N10m flat would probably be affordable and accessible if payment is spread over five to 10 years as against having to be paid at once”.

According to the minister, extortionist rates became worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for those who lost their jobs and businesses, saying private companies and individuals were critical to addressing affordability.

”For example, in cases where rent of businesses or individuals are due for renewal, the private landlords can give back, by accepting monthly, quarterly or half-yearly rent instead of one, two or three years rent in advance.

“The risk of defaults can be secured by Bank Guarantees or Insurance Bonds provided by the tenant. Where rent has fallen into arrears.

”It is possible to emulate what the Federal Government of Nigeria did through the Central Bank of Nigeria, to reschedule payment on loans, by re-scheduling the payment for the tenant to more affordable terms instead of pursuing eviction,” he said.

Fashola urged the council in their deliberations, to recommend a legislation that addresses issues of advance payment of rent, and sanctions to be enforced on defaulters.

He said the theme of the conference, “Housing Delivery in Covid-19 Era and Beyond: The Strategies for Affordability and Accessibility”, was apt with the economic down turn being experienced.

Fashola noted that access to affordable housing, especially in urban areas, has been a major challenge over the years, saying excess demand in urban areas is the bane for price hike and scarcity impeding affordability and accessibility.

He said the federal government, in its housing initiative with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, has engaged 86 cooperatives in housing projects to facilitate accessibility.

The minister said N35.784 billion had been cumulatively approved for the housing initiative with N10.95 billion cumulatively disbursed, saying 57 Cooperative Housing Development Loans were being processed as at January, 2021.

“Cooperatives can leverage their members to get group discount for purchase of building materials, and the engagement of contractors to build,” he said.

He thanked the states who have provided land for the National Housing Projects, saying a web portal would be unveiled for the sale of the buildings to Nigerians on a first come first serve basis.

In his remarks, Gov Simon Lalong of Plateau, said access to land is a major global challenge to housing delivery, saying the acquisition of land was riddled with difficulties, which eventually add the cost of the houses when eventually delivered.

He said his administration has adopted a Public/Private Partnership in the acquisition of land and preparation of layouts to make housing more affordable and attract investors.

“To encourage people to key into such initiatives, we have also approved a 50% discount on all land-related charges in the State from 2016 to date,” he said.

Lalong said a one-stop investment centre was established in the state to ease doing businesses for investors, by ensuring documentation and access to other facilities was provided at the same point.

“To ensure that we eliminate risks in land administration and increase investor confidence, we have also signed into law the anti-land grabbing bill that will deter people from sharp practices in land management,” he said.

He urged the council to make recommendations on the ugly development of growth in urban slums in Nigeria, which was a major obstruction in planning and the provision of infrastructure.

Lalong appealed to the minister to fast track the commencement of road projects in the state, such as the Akwanga/Jos/Gombe Road, Jos/Zaria Road, Ibi/Shendam/Lafia Road and Wase Bridge, among others.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, House Committee on Housing and Habitat, Mustapha Dawaki, urged the participants to deliberate, on proffering solutions to the high cost of building materials impeding affordability of housing.

The chairman, represented by Hon. Solomon Maren of the Bokkos/Mangu Constituency in Plateau, urged the council to seek ways in stemming building collapse, especially with the present housing deficit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting which began on 26 April, will end on Friday. (NAN)

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