At the turn of the New Year, landlords in Lagos State have increased rent for their properties, an action that does not sit well with tenants.

A cross-section of tenants who spoke with our correspondents decried the increase, saying it was coming at a time people were feeling the fangs of hard times in the country.

“For the past five years, I have been paying N300,000 annually as house rent for a mini flat (a room and parlour self-contained) in Agidingbi, Ikeja. But to my surprise this year, I got a notice from the caretaker that the rent has been increased to N450,000 which is more than 50 per cent increase.

“All the tenants in my apartment are still at a loss over the increase and are appealing to the landlord to reduce the increment,” a tenant who identified himself as Chidi, said.

Findings by our correspondent showed the increment is most prevalent in popular residential areas of Ikeja, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi, Lekki, Surulere and Yaba, among others.

Another tenant in Ojodu also told our correspondent how the rent for a three-bedroom flat was increased from N700,000 to N1.6m after the landlord reportedly ejected all the tenants in his apartment and carried out minor renovation.

“After the renovation, the price was jerked up cutting across all categories of flats in the apartment. For instance, the rent for a mini flat was increased from N350,000 to N650,000; a two-bedroom flat was increased from N600,000 to N1.1m and so on.

“Though as I am talking to you people have been coming to check the apartments, the complaint is that the prices are too high,” the tenant said.

Mrs. Temitope Gabriel, a resident of Dopemu who confirmed her house rent was increased, stated that the situation has persisted since the COVID-19 era.

“Ordinarily with COVID-19, landlords should not increase house rent. They particularly did not need to increase house rent because many people lost their jobs and things are extremely hard but that has not deterred landlords from increasing house rent,” she said.

Saying a two-bedroom flat costs between N1m to N1.3m in her estate, Mrs. Gabriel stated that some tenants have been forced to vacate and move into their uncompleted buildings.

Mrs. Vivian Ohene resides in a three-bedroom apartment in an estate at Mangoro where she was paying N500,000 annually but could not get the same type of apartment at N1million when she sought to change residence.

She said the recent hike in rent in Lagos is quite alarming as it is not the best time to increase rent due to the economic situation of the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had to leave the apartment I occupied recently and after passing through difficulties to secure a befitting accommodation, the rent was almost three times my previous house rent with agents and lawyers who are ready to collect almost half of the annual rent.

“Some landlords are willing to collect N1million for a three-bedroom apartment, those who are willing to collect N900,000 will ask for two years or one and half years’ payment. This is terrible especially when the landlords and agents could see that the tenant is desperate,” she lamented.

A real estate player, Tunde Balogun, blamed the development on the economic instability and inflation which affect the purchasing power of the people.

He said landlords are also affected by the prevailing economic hardship in the country.

Balogun, the CEO of RentSmallSmall, said: “A landlord also needs to feed his family. If it is a man, he needs to give the wife money for food, money for school fees and the rest. A landlady has her market, she needs to invest in her business, probably has to spend money to contribute to family obligations one way or the other.

“You will realise that these people are feeling the heat of economic instability. Cost has gone up for everything: food; you want to buy plantain today, plantain that used to be N500 is like N1500 now.

“They believe that tenants should not be paying what they were paying before. That is why we are seeing that increase. People will only increase prices in places where they know they can get more to meet their obligations.

“However, the downside of that is that while everything is going up, salary never goes up unless the company is one that is forward-thinking. Even those still want to continue to pay the same salary. If they decide to increase, it will be on performance appraisal and all that.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman in Lagos State, Comrade Funmi Sessi, while reacting to the development, said the rent increase is being experienced without a commensurate increase in salaries of civil servants.

According to her, many state governments are yet to implement the minimum wage.

She urged government to build massive low-cost houses for the masses and “not the type they are building now that are out of the reach of the most people.”

Source : Daily Trust