Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, recently urged landlords in the country to start collecting rents in arrears, beginning from July 6, 2018. While making a presentation at an event for real estate operators in Abuja, on the topic, “Innovative housing finance model as a catalyst for home ownership,” Fashola noted that property owners across the country should understand the plights of the low-income earners He further argued that salary earners, who could afford to pay rents, were not receiving their salaries in advance, but in arrears.
However, property owners have since criticized Fahola’s plea arguing that the minister should rather focus on his official responsibility of delivering adequate and affordable housing units to Nigerians rather than pleading on their behalf.
But analysts argue that encouraging property owners to consider the plight of tenants in the collection of rents in arrears as a way of assuaging the burden of paying rents in advance is a welcome development. Recall that when he was the governor of Lagos state, Fashola formulated a new tenancy law in the state, in consideration of poor Lagos tenants who, hitherto, had to pay rents in excess of two years in advance. This he considered burdensome on the tenants as the new law provides that a new tenant cannot pay rent in excess of one year advance, while a sitting tenant cannot pay rent in excess of six months, among other provisions in the favour of tenants.
So, now that he is Minister in charge of Housing, observers believe that Fashola was making this passionate appeal to property owners to encourage a less burdensome rent payment structure.
Nevertheless, it is not enough to make this appeal. Indeed, analysts argue that beyond appeals, it is pertinent for the Minister to ensure that it makes good government promise of ensuring affordable low cost housing for Nigerians.
Not too long ago, the Muhammadu Buhari-led government had assured that it would embrace the mortgage system to drive the National Housing Programme. It assured that government would issue mortgages which would be tied to the incomes of prospective beneficiaries. Fashola should ensure that government walks its talk in this regard rather than relax on its oars.