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Spike in rent puts Abuja residents on edge

The indiscriminate hike in rent in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has made decent accommodation difficult, especially for low-income earners. The rent in some locations…

The indiscriminate hike in rent in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has made decent accommodation difficult, especially for low-income earners. The rent in some locations in the nation’s capital has increased by over 35 per cent despite the economic challenges in the country. Some residents share how they cope with this situation while building experts dissect the hike in the rent in this report. Daily Trust Saturday reports.

There are concerns by residents over the indiscriminate increase in the cost of house rents by landlords in the FCT. Tenants have recounted how it is becoming increasingly tougher for them to meet up with their obligation of paying their annual rent, accusing the landlords of increasing rent at will.

With the general rise in the prices of commodities, high energy and transportation costs and growing unemployment rates, the astronomical rise in rent is taking a heavy toll on residents.

Experts say at least rent cost has spiked by over 35 percent in Abuja and its environs, due largely to insecurity, inflation with its attendant effect on cost of building materials, and the prohibitive downward slide of the Naira against the Dollar, among others.

“The recent hike in rent in Abuja is quite alarming as it is not the best time to increase rent due to the country’s economic situation,” Yusuf Tijjani, an Abuja resident said.

Living around the Pipeline area of Kubwa satellite town of Abuja, Tijjani said he wanted a change of apartment because he was tired of the old house his family were living in but he was encumbered by the exorbitant rent on the property he enquired about.

Tijjani said he was surprised that he couldn’t get a house in his area where he was paying N600,000 annually for a two-bedroom apartment, explaining that a similar apartment in Phase IV area of Kubwa cost between N1.2m and N1.5m.

He said: “I wanted to leave the apartment I occupied and after encountering difficulties in securing a befitting accommodation, the rent of the one I saw was two times my previous rent. It’s difficult for a landlord to charge N1.2m for a two-bedroom apartment. It’s terrible especially when the landlords and agents see that a tenant is desperate.”

A businessman, Chukwuemeka Uche, who said he paid N1m for a two-bedroom at Dutse Alhaji, lamented that the cost of housing was unbearable. He urged the government to intervene in regulating housing in Abuja and across the country.

A residential building in Utako district, Abuja

 

He said: “I needed to leave my former apartment because my wedding was close and I was running out of time. I got a two-bedroom that was decent enough and I had to cough out N1m. My current house costs N1.3m for the total package, including security fee, service charge and others. I paid two and a half years’ rent. I later found out that the estate agent inflated the price of the apartment by N100,000. I pay more for the same apartment than my neighbour.

“If housing was regulated in Nigeria, one would get something beautiful at affordable prices. There are excesses on the part of house owners; everyone seems to have their rule. It is unthinkable to demand two years’ rent, even paying for a year at once isn’t fair.”

Also, a resident of Dakwa in Dei-Dei, Zakari Taheer, said he got tired after searching for an apartment and paying high rent.

Taheer said: “It’s only God that can save the poor man at the rate house rent is increasing. It’s becoming harder to live in Nigeria. When I got an apartment in my area, a two bedroom-apartment was N350,000 but not anymore. I now pay N700,000. It started with a N50,000 increase, then N300,000 was added. The painful thing is the careless attitude of the landlords. They feel if one cannot pay, then he should move out.’’

A single mother, Oguntade Adebisi, who lives in Byazhin Across, told our reporter that she now pays about four times what she initially paid when she moved into a single room about six years ago.

Adebisi said: “I started paying N20,000 annually for a single room in a slum but now I pay N80,000 yearly. I feel my landlord is deliberately increasing the rent, so that I can leave. Honestly, with the way things are going, if he increases the rent any further, I might not be able to afford it.”

Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday, an estate agent with Penthouse Property Limited, Abuja, Mr. Charles Ateke, said the landlords or their agents were not hiking rent at will as tenants have insinuated.

He explained that apart from the rising demand for accommodation in the capital city and its environs, there are several other factors that have caused the spike in rent.

According to him, the insecurity that has engulfed the country has displaced many, and the people fleeing those places who now seek refuge in Abuja and its suburbs where they think it is relatively safer, have pushed the demand for housing higher, thereby causing the rent hike.

“From a professional’s perspective, I can say that the landlords and their agents are not increasing rent arbitrarily or out of the desire to exploit tenants. The increase in rent is triggered by a lot of factors that are all there for all to grasp.

“Firstly, the insecurity being experienced across the nation has caused an increase in demand for houses in and around Abuja because people fleeing the violence in states in the northeast, northwest, some parts of north-central and southeast are moving to Abuja where they think it is safe.

“Then the rising cost building materials has inflated the cost of building houses and you don’t expect a developer to build a house at a high cost and then give it out cheaply and at a loss.

“Inflation and the free fall of the Naira against the Dollar is another factor that has impacted negatively on the cost of rent in Abuja and the country generally. Most of the building materials are imported and this has greatly impacted rent, especially in the high-end niche of the property market,” he said.

He further explained that even materials sourced locally have tripled in prices, thereby pushing the cost of building higher.

He said a few years back, 30 tons of granite was sold for about N140,000 but that same quantity of granite now is being sold for N320,000, adding that currently the price of cement, a key material in production of houses is between N3,900 and N4,200 per bag when it was N2,500 some years back.

“A ton of iron rod used for reinforcement a couple of years back went for N90,000 per ton but it is N385,000 per ton now. Then the long span roofing sheet (4.5 inch), which used to cost N850.00 per metre is now N2,850 per metre,” he added.

Concerned by the socio-economic impact of the rising rent cost on the people, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) sponsored Advanced Rent (Residential Apartments, Office Spaces Regulation Bill, 2022.

The bill, which has passed second reading at the Senate, seeks to regulate the mode of payment of rent on residential apartments, office spaces, etc. in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Leading the debate on the bill, Adeyemi stated that the legislation would provide a legal framework which would cause the reduction in advance payment of rents from annual or bi-annual by tenants to three months, and subsequently monthly payments.

He argued that the bill would offer a flexible payment plan to Nigerians who are tenants and who most times, are left to the mercy of ‘fraudulent’ landlords.

Sen. Adeyemi further explained that the bill would protect underprivileged workers and tenants from any form of intimidation from house owners or landlords regarding rent payment.

The senator also said when signed into law, the act would provide a window of petitioning for any tenant mandated to pay rents above three months, enable tenants pay the maximum advance payment of rent which is three months as well as curb corrupt practices in the civil service occasioned by the need to meet up with terms and conditions of yearly rent payment.

At the moment, tenants are left at the mercy of their landlords and the prevailing economic situation in the country.