10 January 2013

Nigeria: Provide Enabling Environment for Social Housing, FG Urged

The Federal Government and other tiers of government have been urged to provide an enabling environment for operators in the real estate sector, to ensure affordable houses for Nigerians.

The call was made by the Managing Director of Integax Jubilation Homes Ltd. Mr. Samuel Oladokun, who said governments across all tiers in the country cannot comfortably take on the challenges of providing social housing for the nation's growing population.

Oladokun, in his assessment of growing housing deficits across the country, advocated a sustained government policy that would encourage transparent operations in real estate development. Such a policy, he noted would place emphasis on the provision of an enabling environment for the country's real estate sector to thrive.

Speaking at the company's recent seminar on its social housing programme tagged 'Rent to Own' held in Abuja, he stated that the social burden of providing the housing needs of the population by the government can be transferred to legitimate real estate operators, provided the government is willing to commit to providing an enabling environment.

He added that an incentivised real estate sector can actually take off such burden from the shoulder of governments.

According to him: "I think the government should concentrate more on providing an enabling environment for operators in the sector and then you would really see that the capacity to provide affordable houses for Nigerians to live in is inherent in the sector; an incentivised sector will deliberately make sure that we do not have instances of demolition, which is now incessant in the country."

Explaining the schedule of the company's housing programme, Oladokun said it was initiated to afford middle-income earners an opportunity to own houses of various types ranging from one, two, three and four bedroom apartments respectively, on a conditional arrangement of 25 per cent down payment on the cost of a house and 10 years repayment period of the 75 per cent balance.

He said the programme is operated in the form of occupiers converting their rental charges into financing the housing mortgage for the 10 years period while still living in the houses and after which they must have been able to complete the payment and then retain it.

"We are bearing the bulk of the risk in this programme; the subscriber is paying 25 per cent of the asking price and we are putting 75 per cent, which means we are losing if anything bad happens along the way. With this, we are taking excessive care to ensure that we are in compliance with the authority and not to build on squatter lands to avoid incidences of demolition.

"We build on bona fide allocated land. The mass housing concept of the Federal Capital Territory allows for the provision of certificate of occupancy to individual subscribers and that we are ensuring in our existing 200 units that are on offer," he said.

Oladokun further said, "The focus of this programme is to make as many middle-income earners as possible to become landlords and house owners by 2013 and so far, we are going about this plan with very good response from people. Of course, I do not need to tell you about the many obstacles to home ownership in Nigeria, more so in Abuja."

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