The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has suggested the collection of three-month rent by landlords and property owners as against the collection of three years rent which he said made housing unaffordable for Nigerians in urban centres.
The minister made this known on Thursday at the weekly State House Briefing in Aso Villa, Abuja.
He stated that Nigeria does not have 17 million housing deficit but urbanisation and affordability have contributed to the housing shortages in places like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, amongst others.
Housing needs continue to be one of the basic challenges for ordinary Nigerians living in urban centres as landlords turn their properties to cash cows, demanding exorbitant amounts and two, three years payment before they let out their assets.
Speaking on Thursday, the minister said, “We are not in a housing crisis and this is a subject of a full discussion itself.
“The housing shortages that exist especially in all parts of the world are in the urban centres, not in the rural areas. It is a problem caused as a result of urbanisation where people move from rural to urban areas and then it creates a supply and demand problem.
“And so, you will find many of the people who are in urban centres like Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Aba, Ibadan, Abeokuta and those types of places seeking to squat with somebody or trying to rent a house has an empty home in his village.
“So, if we understand it like that, then, let us look at the urban centres itself. In the urban centres, you will see that there are still empty houses and you will then understand that we have to discuss housing on two paradigms – ownership and rental – because no nation provides full ownership for all of its citizens.”
Fashola, therefore, urged states to intervene in the management of rent “because as long as people have to pay three years rent from salaries that are earned monthly in arrears, there will be the problem of affordability but if you brought it to like three months in advance, there is something still called salary advance in the private sector,” then people will be able to afford it.
“Most of the properties affected by this lack of occupation belong to private people so government can’t go and take their properties but I think that by persuasion, by intervention through state legislation, we can bridge some of this,” he added.