Babatunde Fashola, former Minister of Works and Housing, has thrown his weight behind the adoption of the rent-to-own scheme and also urged relevant stakeholders and government to take necessary steps to improve the scheme in order to boost efforts aimed at reducing the number of homeless persons in the country.

Fashola gave the recommendation on Thursday while delivering his keynote address at the ongoing 50th-anniversary celebration of the Federal Housing Authority on Thursday in Abuja.

According to the former minister, financial capacity is a hindrance for most persons to purchase homes outright.

As a result, the Federal and state governments must expand rent-to-own programmes.

He said, “Homelessness is the most undignifying experience for a human being and must be confronted with the necessary resolve by political leaders and policymakers. The sad but painful truth is that not everybody will be able to afford to buy a house; but I strongly believe that rental housing for all is possible, not only based on how we build but also how people pay rent.

“Therefore, our housing policy must focus on rental as it focuses on ownership. Consequently, rent-to-own initiatives that started in the last administration must not be allowed to die.

“Instead, there is scope in my view for improvement in expanding rent-to-own schemes at Federal and State levels, and also increasing advocacy for state legislators to make laws that make the payment of rent convenient and convergent with wages and salaries.”

Fashola, speaking on the theme, “The future of housing in Nigeria and 50 years of FHA: A call to action for political leaders and policymakers from decent and affordable housing”, also called for increasing advocacy for state legislators to make laws that make the payment of rent convenient and convergent with wages and salaries.

He emphasised the need for the nation’s housing policy to be oriented toward rental housing and the FHA must be cognisant of this adding that the 50th anniversary celebration must birth evolve new methods of home ownership.

The former Lagos State Governor further gave suggestions on financing, housing types, affordability, people participation, and maintenance with a charge that, “FHA must become a proper business run on very strict corporate governance principles that conform with global best practice and this will be consistent with previous attempts to commercialise or privatise the authority.

He said, “FHA should recognise that the market demand is probably dominated by those in the age bracket of around 25 to 35 years and it would be helpful for FHA to conduct a highly professional survey of what their needs are before designing and building.

“The other survey that I would advocate is the payment mode that this category of potential buyers will opt for and to urge FHA to factor in digital platforms for advertising, sale, and payment because this is the language of this class of buyers. If FHA expects these class of buyers to come to their offices to come and collect forms to buy houses and go through some of the ancient red tape that time has tied away for FHA, then there is a risk to success.”

Source: Punch