My name is John Thomas, 34. Four years ago I lived in a rented apartment in Ikeja, Lagos and I had such an indelible experience. My liberation from the shackles of tenancy came only after an incredible experience with my landlord at the time.
We(the tenants) had a sitting landlord and he stayed alone in his apartment. He had all the time in the world to unleash “social torment” on us. Pa Jimoh banned his tenants from the use of generator, stopped us from having parties or entertaining too many guests, made us pay for light and water that we seldom got. And whenever anyone stood up to him, our rents got increased. “If you no like my house make you go build ya own!” so he would yell at us. It was HELL! We had the highest fence in the area with special metal thorns. It was practically impenetrable to robbers.
One day, Pa Jimoh announced that he would commence closing the gates by 8pm at night. He emphasized that nothing would ever make him open that gate after 8pm. He expected everyone to be back home before then. I asked “why?” He said the rainy season was here and robbers attacked earlier than usual. As people murmured, he walked away. Pa Jimoh was so strict about his 8pm rule that he refused to open the gate for one pregnant tenant in labour at 10pm. He told her husband that she could deliver in the house. That outside was not safe. It was that bad!
I knew what was good for me at the time and that was to get my own house and end these embarrassments. I had enough money in my savings to get me started on that.
It was raining heavily one fateful Saturday night. A heavy knock woke me up. “Open this door before I shoot am down!” The obvious voices of robbers made me shiver. A band of armed robbers had penetrated our fortress. But how? When the robbery was over and we had recovered from the shock, the question on everyone’s pair of lips was “who opened the gate?” We knew there was no way anyone could enter if not through that gate.
The tenants collectively pounced on the landlord and beat him up to stupor after finding out that he had opened the gate by 11pm to let in his totally drunk son, Jerry, who was at the gate shouting. Roaming robbers took the opportunity and here we were, separated from our belongings.
After losing almost all I had to the robbery, I was so annoyed that I took a rash decision to buy my own place. I went to a friend of mine who was into Real Estate Management. He asked me what changed my mind and I told him “my landlord has been fired“. He smiled and got me a purchase plan(mortgage) that meant I could pay for the house over a period of time. I’m liberated and happier now.
AUTHOR: Izuagie Solomon