Getting an accommodation in the city of excellence is never a walk in the park. In most cases a tenant in Lagos does pass through thick and thin to find shelter because of the competitive nature of the city which is the fastest growing city in Africa, with a population of over 21 million people. In this piece, Solomon Izuagie,a tenant in Lagos tells his ordeal finding accommodation in Lagos.
I relocated from Abuja to Lagos in 2015 in search of greener pastures but little did I know that the grass is always green on the other side.
On getting into the city of hustlers, without much ado I quickly settled in with a friend. We had a cordial relationship for a while but all of that changed when his girlfriend became a regular guest in the self-contained apartment he rented.
At first his girlfriend’s attitude towards me seemed more like a friendly disposition until the cookie began to crumble, and what started as just a chit-chat became a sport for her.
I did not even notice his girlfriend’s affinity towards me until my friend drew my attention to it.
“Paddy, I think my girlfriend likes you,” Emeka told me in low tones the night before things really got heated but I shrugged it off. Arit had just left after spending almost the whole day with us, although she spent most of that time discussing things that interested her with me.
Arit loved Politics and was also an accountant just like me, so we had a common ground unlike her boyfriend who was an ardent football lover and a rock music enthusiast. Once Emeka got involved in any of his passion nothing else mattered including his girlfriend, and she usually came on Saturdays when there was one premiership match or the other being played.
Fortunately for Arit, I wasn’t so much of a football freak so there was always someone to talk to when her boyfriend took his mind off her for long hours of the day during her visits.
Unfortunately all of these built a bond between us, but I wasn’t aware of it until it became a serious issue between my friend and I.
To cut the story short, my friend claimed I was having an affair with his girlfriend and as a result my continuous stay in his apartment would mean shooting himself in the foot.
Consequently I was thrown out of his apartment into the streets of Lagos to begin a journey I wasn’t prepared for. That was how my search for an apartment in a city I wasn’t accustomed to yet began. With the conditions that confronted me, it was obvious I wasn’t prepared for what it entailed to be a tenant in Lagos.
But like they say, desperate conditions calls for desperate measures so I adapted one way or the other as my search for an apartment of my own in the unique city took off.
The first agent I met in my search for an apartment was a pain in the ass. Having told him the kind of apartment I needed, he asked me to register with 2000 naira as was the custom. Thereafter I was made to fill a form that included my personal details and a passport photograph was affixed to the form.
I thought that was the end of my struggles, little did I know it was only the beginning of many things to come.
All the apartments I inspected alongside the agent were a disaster; not a single one of them was worth the price tag placed on them. The living conditions in the said apartments were subpar and that’s putting it mildly.
Another major challenge was that the house rent charged was even lower than the other fees such as Agency, Legal and Caution which made the total package for some if not most of the houses rather ridiculous.
Worse still, I couldn’t even see any of the landlords directly to negotiate; agents make sure you don’t enjoy such privilege till you have reached a financial agreement with them.
Imagine paying 300, 000 naira for an apartment that should ordinarily cost you just 100,000 naira…that is what is obtainable in Lagos; the plight of a tenant in Lagos.
Though I finally got an apartment for a seemingly considerable fee, in terms of the total package, that too had its own demerits.
I faced mountainous obstacles in the apartment in question, in fact life was miserable there. Few days after moving into the apartment, I got back from work on one occasion to discover that flood had invaded my apartment and destroyed the few valuables I had in the house. The flood destroyed a lot of things in the apartment and repairs soon came on the front burner; the question was, who would be responsible since money was involved?
In sane climes, the landlord would take full responsibility without batting an eyelid, but do we live in a sane society? You know the answer right?
The landlord and agent in charge would hear none of my complaints and eventually went AWOL when I assumed the role of a pest in their lives. And since I was the person living in the apartment, I had to do the needful
Eventually, I spent 100,000 thousand naira fixing that apartment. But my woes were not over yet. Three months after I received a call at work that the Government had demolished my apartment and some other structures in that vicinity. The moment I heard the news it felt like the earth had suddenly lost its cover.
And there I was, homeless and broken. Prior to that, I had never being homeless all my life, albeit in the unique city of Lagos, records are broken especially when you are a tenant in Lagos. I went to the Landlord to ask for a refund, but he claimed to be nursing wounds too since the apartments that were demolished were his investments. Therefore, according to him, asking for a refund was suicidal.
The Landlord advised me to go tackle the issue with my agent squarely, sine he was the agent that got the place for me but the agent had gone into hiding. I decided to let go of the money because pursuing it will be a waste of time and energy.
The major bane tenants in Lagos face is that the landlords and the agents are never true to themselves, how much more being true to the tenants.
So within a year I had to search for accommodation twice and both experiences weren’t pleasant. I went back to the agent who I initially registered with when my search for accommodation in Lagos began. To my surprise the agent was asking for another registration fee of 2000 naira knowing fully well that it wasn’t long ago I engaged his services and parted with the same amount. He told me this was an entirely new assignment, hence another consultation fee even with the fact that I never really got an apartment with him.
Well, I eventually persuaded him to help me out with the search and afterwards I will pay the consultation fee when I get the apartment I want.
I finally found an apartment after a week from one of my Papas in town but that too did not come easy. The old man asked me to tell him the amount I paid for the apartment that was demolished of which I told him that the apartment was different from his and so he couldn’t make comparisons. However, he still insisted and since I am a person of integrity I told him the exact amount. And alas! He asked me to pay the same amount.
I was disappointed in the old man because what he was offering me was below standards as compared to the apartment that was demolished. The old man exploited me because I was homeless and desperate. I paid 100,000 thousand naira for the apartment and even spent an additional 60,000 naira on repairs. This lays credence to the fact that landlords fix apartments halfway and wait for the tenant coming in to do the rest of the work.
Albeit, the good part of this later deal was that I never paid for the other fees that comes with renting a new apartment as is the case with a tenant in Lagos.
Surprisingly the apartment I live in presently is a much bigger one; a mini flat in the same compound rented to me on a platter of gold by the same Papa who tried to exploit me. I think what happened was that, he realized I was going to be a good tenant in his property so he decided to rent the mini-flat in his property to me at a standard rate without asking for other fees.
That notwithstanding, a tenant in Lagos does go through a lot in his or her search for an accommodation as compared to their counterparts in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar and even Ibadan. yet they pay more for accommodation. This situation should be looked into critically.