How To Handle Rent Increase In Lagos / Abuja Nigeria

The rent chargeable for accommodation differs all over the country depending on which town or city the property is situated. Everyone will just have to apply this guide to local conditions the way they occur. For obvious reasons depending on the town or city in which you reside, rent when compared with the other places may be considered low or high.

Rent in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Others

Consider this: Lagos, Abuja FCT and Port Harcourt easily command the highest level of rent in the whole of Nigeria. Lagos is a port city and is the commercial capital of Nigeria. It is presently regarded by the United Nations as the fastest growing city in the world. The population figure of Lagos is more than double the population of many other African countries.

Close on its heels, Abuja is also growing fast because of the attraction of being the capital of Nigeria. People’s perception is that there are growing opportunities in Abuja. Incidentally, Abuja is also the seat of the federal government who is the largest spender that drives the Nigerian economy.
Resultantly, a lot of people think it is better to move closer to these places and so, once demand outstrips supply in housing (just like goods) rent is driven up.
Agents cannot fix rent like most people accuse; demand and supply determine rent. You will however, be correct to allude that the agent is a rent watcher who may initiate a rent increase once he observes a growing trend.

Port Harcourt, the oil city, similarly has a high rent profile compared with other places in Nigeria. Why? The fact that it is a port town and the dwelling presence of the workers, companies and operators of the Nigeria crude oil industry indicates there’s money in Port Harcourt. So also is the pressure put on housing as the oil city is equally a relatively small place. Therefore, rent is high. If you view these and consider other places like Ibadan, Enugu, Ilorin, Zaria, Bauchi, Owerri where rents are lower you will then understand that each town or city must know its level and that is what determines rent.

See – LAND FOR SALE IN IBEJU LEKKI

Going by this diversity no matter how beautiful a house is you cannot charge Abuja rent in Ibadan for the same sort of accommodation. You cannot charge Lagos rent in Ilorin neither can you obtain Warri rent in Auchi or Asaba. The relative economic power of each area is what drives its rent level. Even within the same town, it is easy to observe a pattern where people gather either for industrial, educational or trade purposes. If there is a University or Polytechnic in a town, the need for student’s accommodation alone may drive rent unreasonably in that vicinity up to 400% higher than the average obtainable in the rest of the same town for the same accommodation.

Rent never goes down! It keeps going up! This is a general statement which is mostly true as most of us will witness. The incidence of rent dropping will usually be for other reasons rather than economic with only a few exceptions. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it is climbing fast.
Now there aren’t effective rent controls – government of many nations (even communists) have failed in their attempt to peg rent because they do not own the houses – individuals do. It is how you, the tenant, handles rent hikes that matters. The tenants must respond to it in a construction manner as we shall guide later and in a protest that gets very little done.
If rent increases are to frequent in a particular place where you have rented, you may have to point it out quickly and suggest a fairer pattern.
Rent can simply not be increased every year – even the tenant cannot plan because while he is still saving up the percent rent N350,000 (for example) which he paid for the ongoing year he gets a letter that his next rent shall be N450,000 and this upsets his whole financial planning.
Well? Don’t just remain silent, make it clear you can only accommodate an increase next year and open the door for constructive bargaining.

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A Tip: The same lethargy a tenant feels about starting all over and changing accommodation because of rent increase is the same way the landlord or his agents feel about actually starting a real eviction process to get the tenants out.
Nobody really enjoys going to court to engage in a long gruelling case if it can be avoided. So most landlord’s cases in court are for tenants in arrears who refuse or are unable to pay rent, not those who are willing to pay but unable to pay the increase! At the point of decision because of associated cost of litigation the owner will be advised to accept your rent and give you some grace.

This of course is true only in majority of the cases as you still find certain owners who are hell bent on causing trouble. In such fewer instances, begin to look for alternative accommodation and give yourself one or two years. If it is unbearable, do something urgent – move immediately.

Now to be really down-to-earth, whether your landlord increases rent or not becomes an individual thing and depends on his temperament and of course his degree of personal comfort or economic buoyancy. Whether you believe it or not, some landlords forget their rents are due because they have a lot more going for them and do not have immediate financial pressure causing them to look for money. Such an owner is not likely to press often for rent increase but a landlord who virtually lives off his rent will be on your case already a few months to your rent due date.

View – PROPERTY IN IBEJU LEKKI

Some men beat their wives and abuse their children, while others show love to their wives by helping at home, doing their own part of domestic chores and buying expensive gifts for them. It all depends on individual. These differences also exist in landlord and tenants relationship.
There was an actual instance of a landlord who owned a block of six flats and at Christmas every year, sent two live chickens to each of the six tenants. Also, throughout the year if any tenant gives birth or has to bury a family member, he made a point to attend. The rents certainly were not going up frequently and whenever he increased a bit the tenants were always willing to pay. Now you will agree that this is the exception.
There also was this landlord who as a habit just a few months to the expiration of the tenancy always issued a quit notice to his tenants and would then wait for them to come one by one to plead at which opportunity he increased rent.
Every year he did this and after the third year the tenants already knew his pattern and came together to resist further increase. The old man who was almost a professional litigant simply obtained an “express” court order to evict them all and on a Friday morning while all four tenants (it was a block of four flats) were getting ready for work and children for school, court bailiffs swooped on them unawares and threw all their property on the street!

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Now these are two basic true life illustrations. While one was beautiful, the other was brutal. It appears therefore that the tenant has to dance to the whims and caprices of the landlord many times. In some instances it is also the agent playing this terrible role of the hatchet man. As true as it is that tenants may be fairly evicted due to rent default, this situation can be resolved by dialogue and a show of mercy instead of throwing out the tenants who were willing to pay but just did not yet want yet another fourth increase in a row.
This is a why a tenant should be aware of his legal rights and be able to apply this wisely to avoid such embarrassing situations. He should also be able to exercise proper practical application to produce desired results. If while you exercise your rights, and you take a quarrelsome stand and are able to delay your eviction, it is only for a while because certainly you are not the owner of the house. So while making clear your rights, always extend an olive branch – a sign of peace and willingness to the landlord or his agent and you will find better favour. Tenants may not be aware but landlords and managing agents sometimes differ sharply and quarrel because of the disagreements arising in tenancy administration.

When rents go up:
there is increased responsibility to the tenant;
the cost of living goes up too! Often this is without corresponding increase in wages or income;
savings of the individual household is automatically reduced;
adjustments occur in monthly or yearly spending.

Approach rent increase in the following manner

The moment you receive a notice of increase, your internal response system is triggered off. Each person’s circumstance is different and that is why the thought process and response to a rent increase would usually be different but all fall in the underlisted brackets. After processing your thoughts your response can then be formed which is what gives room for your next action.

Your rent is due for a review and you know it. Maybe it was previously increased five years ago and now they wrote you (or even just three years back). Or you have noticed in your neighbourhood that the rent charged on your accommodation is the lowest in the area. It would be a clear mistake to resist such rent increase because the people you are dealing with, that is, landlord/agent seem very fair. The best approach is to welcome the increase but seek to negotiate favourably and this would depend on what you find out to be going rent considered together with what your income can support.

Your have received a notice of rent increase and your honest inner feeling based not on emotion but actual figures of comparison with other people’s rent is that you are being exploited.

Again the rent increase has come but you feel there are issues with the house that make it unfair to increase rent.

Instinctively as you receive a notice of rent increase you know of an incident or offence between you, the landlord or agent that seemed to result in this punitive rent increase designed to bring you to your knees or frustrate you out of the property.

Process all these four issues in your mind to know where the objective lies for increased rent and be careful to be honest about it because this forms the foundation of a correct response. Each of these four is your strong point for a discussion and negotiation and most times when you identify the cause properly, you will receive due consideration even though at other times you would not.

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The first – point 1 – is the most straight forward. Choose your level and how far up you can go and stick to it. You can negotiate of course because every tenancy agreement says rent should be mutually agreed.

Points 2-3 and 4 make it possible for you to marshal your agreement not with strong confrontation but persuasively and you may end up avoiding the rent increase completely. The mistake most people make is either to ignore such letters from the property owner or instantly declare war to resist the increase. The better way however is to go forward to whoever is in charge and prove that the rent appears exploitative or the house in its present state cannot command the same rent with others in better condition or simply apologize for what went wrong between you to occasion such witch-hunting. You will be surprised at the positive result this could yield.

The Last Resort – unknown to most people,: several states within the Federal Republic of Nigeria have rent edicts that effectively mediate in issues of landlords and tenants. The main focus is rent and both parties can use it to advantage to obtain fairly quick solutions. Wherever the tenant is located in Nigeria, this information can be used to advantage.

The Rent Court or Tribunal can work for both parties as outlined below:

Landlord
Help the landlord by issuing an order for the tenant to pay his rent arrears or mesne profits which is rent calculated on a pro-rata basis.
Give an order for a tenant to vacate the premises.

Tenant
The Tribunal can interfere and give an order for rent to be pegged at a particular amount in favour of the tenant if the tenant reports that the increase is too outrageous and the landlord has to comply.
An order will also be issued usually that no quit notice should be given to the tenant and this may give a period of grace lasting for between one and two years. The disadvantage is that as soon as the tenant uses up this joker, he must realize that his leaving is a matter of time!
A summary of what you can get by negotiating:
A good reduction in the proposed rent is possible so it is not too high or prohibitive.
You can defer rent increase one or two years longer.
You can resolve quarrels or differences and not face rent increase anymore for that moment.

In conclusion: You cannot force the issue neither does it help to gang up with other tenants to try and frustrate the property owners. In fact, you may be surprised that your co-tenants may go behind you to make peace while you are still blowing hot – use persuasion!

Trackbacks

  1. […] While the tenant is perfecting this grand plan to avoid further rent payment until repairs are fixed, the landlord ( in anticipation of an increase in rent) has also gone to instruct his lawyer or his managing agent who oversees the house to give the tenant a notice to quit. Ultimately, he expects that the tenant will turn up for fresh negotiations and pay higher rent. […]

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