Lagos:Tenancy law - Tenants who are victims of the excesses of landlords in the state to take advantage of the law by petitioning the government for prompt action
BY ISHOLA BALOGUN & EBUN SESSOU Hon Olusegun Olulade is the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Publicity, representing Epe Constituency 11 in the State Assembly.
In this interview, he explains the need for the tenancy law while also charging prospective tenants who are victims of the excesses of landlords in the state to take advantage of the law by petitioning the government for prompt action. Excerpts. How far is the Tenancy Law working in the state? Laws are made for the purpose of the people. And once there have not been any issue for the interpretation of those laws in order to test the law, it will be there. If there have been any issue to test tenancy law which is to the benefit of everybody, we should take opportunity of the law to curb these excesses and corrupt tendencies in the system.
It is clear that if I need a house and I’m not paid in-advance in my place of work, I’m therefore not expected to pay an advance of three years rent. If not, such an individual could be opened to corrupt practices in order to meet up with his or her responsibilities.
What we are saying in essence is that, a prospective tenant is expected to pay a year rent while a sitting tenant is not expected to pay more than six months advance. And that will give a tenant an opportunity to plan ahead to be paying a particular amount of money for a specific period of time. But what if the landlord insists on collecting more than a year rent for a new tenant and a year from a sitting tenant? The tenant should go to court. Although, it is not everything that one should go to court for. Perhaps, the tenant can enlighten the landlord on the situation of things because it is not everybody that is aware of this policy. Then, it becomes very necessary that such tenant should enlighten the landlord on the portion of the law that is biding both tenant and landlord not to go against the law. If not, both landlord and tenant will be in problem. But situations like that abound in the state. That has not been brought to our notice. They can write or petition the Lagos State House of Assembly. And it will addressed with all urgency as long as there are proofs.
Once, there is a law, then, it is a different ball game. It is only when we follow due processes and practice true federalism that we can have the Nigeria and Lagos State of our dream. So, we will not fold our hands as a government and see things done the wrong way. I expect prospective tenants to write petitions to the House. And I expect some NGOs, to rise to the challenge and defend prospective tenants in Lagos. It is wrong on the part of landlord to say, government, didn’t build my house for me and therefore I can take whatever decision on it. Housing is a property and it can be there for years. And the fact that properties appreciate on a daily basis, it will be wrong for any landlord to exploit his tenant. Some landlords say they got a loan from the bank and they are expected to pay back within a specific time and so, they’ve got to recoup their money? That is bad planning. Anyone who wants to service a bank loan and has the mind of inflicting hardship on his or her fellow person, is not doing the right thing. Such a landlord or investor is only being selfish. Commonsense demands that you plan very well independent of the tenant or any other person to achieve your plan. What is government doing to encourage investors or people to own houses? There are plans. It is because people always look for quick money.
There are mortgages that have been set aside for people, even to own houses in Lagos State. You can see the ministry of Housing on that for details. We are also building low cost housing estates so that people can have access to affordable houses. The first project that this administration commissioned was an housing in Odo-Iragushin in Epe, and that falls under my constituency. And those houses are also on mortgage. People can pay within the period of 20 and 30 years. It is just for people to go to the Ministry of Housing, Lagos State on how to go about it. This is a government that is progressive. It is a government that is responsible and responsive to the yearnings of the people. Whatever law is made in the house is made after due consultation and therefore it is pertinent for all the arms of government to come together to ensure that it works. And that is why there is room for public hearing for stakeholders to be involved in making some valid decisions. One of the problems on land acquisition and building houses is the issue of land speculators “Omo Onile”, what is government doing about it to stem the tide? The government of Lagos State will not fold its arms where peace is threatened in a particular section of the state.
And I have not seen anywhere that such case has been reported that we haven’t taken necessary action on it. We will not allow land speculators to take charge. There are proper ways of doing things. If there are such cases, it should be reported for immediate action. People should be free to lodge their reports. The house belongs to Lagosians. People voted us in and if they are facing any problem, they should be free to report such cases. What about the issue of agberos Recently, there are cases of violence on the part of this union but the House has been able to resolve that problem. This group of people has union that is recognised by the constitution of Nigeria. So, it is not something that is peculiar to Lagos. But, Lagos is a commercial centre for Nigeria, that is why, it is the focus on this issue. There is consciousness in Lagos and individuals cannot limit the crisis of those unions only to Lagos. There was a time, they were banned in Oyo State. But, we cannot rule it out because there are some challenges including poverty, unemployment that are affecting this issue.