Lagos, the largest city in and the former capital of Nigeria, is the second most populous state; with an estimated population figure of 10.5million. The metropolitan Lagos area (which covers 37% of the Lagos land mass) hosts about 85% of the population, resulting in an average population density of 20,000 persons per sq km. Lagos however, is a poor city and with an annual budget of $650million, it cannot meet the demands for infrastructure for its teeming population of more than 10million. Other cities with less population have annual budgets in excess of $1billion.
Lagos State has a housing deficit of 5million (30% of Nigeria’s 16million), which has mostly been due to its remarkably low annual budget, with other challenges being the provision of many other infrastructural facilities. With a slum population between 790 and 1240 people per hectare, housing is grossly inadequate.
The Lagos property market is in a state of disarray; clogged with quack and barely trained property agents, as everyone is now an agent, as it is now perhaps the most informal job in Lagos State, due to the ever growing need to rent a house. Even Bus Conductors, who in rare cases are not agents themselves, have relatives who are. There are also thieving and crooked landlords with their poorly managed and dilapidating properties.
The Lagos State Government –in order to regulate its property market, formulated the 2011 Lagos State Tenancy Law. This however, has had little or no effect, as the Landlord and Agents have refused to follow the guidelines put in place. An example is a Section of the law, which states that it shall be unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a tenant, rent in excess of one year in respect of any premises. There have been many instances where landlords and agents have been demanding two years rent in advance, and in some cases where the landlord chooses to accept a year rent, agents insist on 2 years agency fee. This has mostly been because of the weak enforcement of the law, while some have even stated that the law has made it worse for the tenants because there is no means of enforcing it.
Landlords are also seen implementing various ridiculous terms and conditions, like not wanting an Igbo tenant, an unmarried tenant, or a female tenant; agents demanding to be fed by clients during inspections, or asking clients to provide airtime to call to confirm the availability of a particular property, just for the purpose of swindling the clients off their money.
A proper implementation of the Lagos State Tenancy Law would go a long way in the eradication of corruption in the Lagos State Property Market, as if erring landlords and agents are properly punished, others would refrain from their unlawful acts, and adhere to the rules. Also, clients and individuals should ensure they deal with only certified property agents, with the Estate Surveyor and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria seal. These agents are bound by laws, and the risk of the clients getting duped will be greatly reduced.