Controversy last week continued to trail the new Lagos tenancy law after Governor Babatunde Fasola assented to the bill 14 days ago, as the prospects of having an acceptable law and backing of professionals in the estate agency practice loomed large at the weekend.
Apparently stirred by the discrepancy and rejection of its submissions, senior members of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) said the action of the state, especially in exempting some areas within the law and adoption of high taxes and charges in housing related documentations does not show good governance.
“It should be noted that this new tenancy law as well as the high taxes and charges in processing of certificate of occupancy, consent, building approvals among others are disincentive to investment in housing in Lagos State,” according to Mr. Olusola Fatoki, Lagos NIESV branch chairman at a media breakfast meeting in Ikeja.
He noted that rent control in the state since the tenure of Brig. Mobolaji Johnson (Rtd) from the 70s has never achieved the desired purpose, as demand is usually higher than supply. “This is the area where we expect the state government to play active role by ensuring adequate housing supply. The performance of government in provision of housing for the low and medium income earners is abysmally low. This law may further worsen the situation,” he said.
Already, the national body has set up a committee headed by the Chairman of the Faculty of Agency, Mr. Chudi Ubosi to review the bill and advise the institution, but property watchers believe the action is belated. “We believe that laws made for the order and progress of the society must be constantly reviewed, amended or repealed when necessary,” Fatoki said.
He disclosed that the bill passed by the state house of assembly had no exemption for properties in Ikoyi, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi and Victoria Island, Apapa and Lekki and wondered why the discrepancy.
Mr. Sola Enitan, the branch’s Media and Publicity secretary said by exempting such areas, government has told property developers not to invest in mass housing and only for the rich, thereby laying foundation towards increasing demand for the few housing stock in the affected areas.
The NIESV chairman said: “It is a fact that the government has an inalienable right to make laws for the society, such laws must however be acceptable to the generality of the society. The government equally has the responsibility to provide not just roads, education, health care facility but also affordable accommodation for her citizens.”
A former state chairman, and fellow of the institution, Otunba Bola Onabadejo said: “anywhere the government is making a law, it’s imperative that stakeholder, especially professionals in that particular industry must be carried along. It will only lead to a better society. It is not weakness on the side of government, but decorum on their part. This exactly what the government did on the land use charge, by the time we heard about it, the document has already been signed into law.”
Collaborating the views of the colleagues, Mr. Elias Ovesuor stressed that property is a form of investment. “When you bring out a law that hurts property investment, investors will move into other sectors. By this law, government will create black market in the housing industry. Government must fashion out ways of providing social housing. The government has good intention, but the way they are implementing it, means they we’re not well guided.”
Ubosi explained that the position of members on the law is very as the law does not control rents; rather it lowers investment in housing, creates conflicts between landlords and tenants. He urged the state government to build more houses.
By the provision of the law, any landlord that collects rent in excess of six months from a sitting tenant and one year from a new tenant would either be jailed for three months or pay a fine of 100,000 on conviction.
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Source: The Guardian