Lagos — Landlords and Tenants Rights Initiative (LTRI), a Lagos based Non-Governmental Organisation has an raised against the proposed Tenancy law now before the State House of Assembly, saying "tougher times lie ahead of tenants in Lagos if the bill becomes law".
The rights group in a statement issued in Lagos said aside the deregulation of rent, "provisions in the bill simplify the process of evicting tenants from their accommodation for arrears of rent ranging from between three to six months default".
In the statement signed by its president, Mr. Valentino Buono, LTRI pointed out that is was unfortunate that several residents in the state, who have so far commented on the bill, have erroneously picked only on the provision which proposes a three months maximum advance rents for sitting tenants.
But adducing further insight into the details of the bill, it said that the proposed deregulation of rents in Lagos was not only discernible from the total absence of rent control in all of its provisions but also on the title of the bill which when passed into law will be known simply as 'Tenancy Law' instead of the usual 'Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises law'.
LTRI also argued that although the bill was specific on the maximum of three months advance rent which any sitting tenant shall pay at any one time, it was however, silent on the maximum rent or the advance rent any incoming tenant shall pay to landlords and their agents.
"The unmistakable implication of this is that landlords may charge new tenants any amount of rent that the landlord desires and which is agreeable to the tenant and pay any number of years of advance rents too.
Mr. Buono, a lawyer however regretted that the bill which gave freedom to landlords to charge their own rents went ahead in its section 12(2) and (3) to provide that any tenant who defaults in rents for specific periods of three months and six months shall have their tenancy terminated. The implication of this according to Buono "is that the landlord will not require giving the tenant a quit notice but simply approach the court after seven days notice, to enable him exercise his right of recovery of his property".
The NGO therefore called on all Lagos residents to immediately get copies of the bill for their personal information in order to speak out in one voice against the social implications of the bill. It further noted that since the State House of Assembly has had a Public Hearing on the bill and is still in the course of collating opinions, the time to speak is now.
The group said that rent control is still practiced in most advanced economies including UK, US, Canada and others and wondered why such change of policy should be considered in a country that even lacks basic necessities of life, alternative housing programmes by the government as well as social security for the teaming populace.
LTRI however said it would in due course raise other objectionable provisions of the bill said although it supports the quest to seek avenues to compensate landlords for their investments, "such steps must not be taken without due consideration of its resultant political and economic consequences after all".