Vanguard (Lagos)

26 February 2013

Nigeria: Senator Adeyemi's Smart Moves Against Abuja Landlords

Senator Smart Adeyemi is hot strange to controversy and especially those that put him at odds with the elitist class which many Nigerians believe he is an integrated part of.

Senator Adeyemi who came to national renown as national president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ has used the platform of the senate to canvass support for the class of people he calls the common man. On account of his tirades against elites he has acquired the sobriquet Man of God.

Now in the latest controversy he is stirring, Senator Adeyemi is pushing for a cap to the number of years tenants can pay for rent in the federal capital.

The bill titled "The Bill for an Act to re-enact the recovery of premises Act (Abuja) 2013" seeks to regulate the relationship between tenants and their landlords in the number of years a tenant can pay for rent, recovery of premises as well as other matters connected therewith.

Not unexpectedly, the bill is already setting confusion in the midst of Abuja landlords with some allegedly raising opposition against it.

The main grouse of the opponents is the prescription in the bill that any tenant that proves that he was forced by the landlord to pay for more than one year could stay in the house for an additional five years free of charge. It is a prescription that many Abuja landlords is said to be bothering many Abuja landlords who are now said to be mobilizing resources to defeat.

Presenting the bill when it came up for debate in the senate last Wednesday, Senator Adeyemi said it is aimed at looking into the administration of arbitrary and prohibitive rents being imposed by landlords in the Federal Capital Territory, saying if passed, the bill would bring succor to tenants of the FCT as well as make it easy for landlords to get the rent of their houses.

The Bill, according to him "seeks to ameliorate the hardship of tenants, by making housing affordable and rents sustainable in the FCT. This will help tenants, especially the low income earners, who are the majority of FCT residents to get decent accommodations within their income. This Bill is basically to fortify innocent Nigerians from the sharp practices of landlords, not minding the stiff opposition that may arise from property owners", he explained.

"The bill stipulates that the landlord is entitled to receive only six months' advance rent from a sitting tenant. It also provides for a rent review mechanism which requires landlords to review their rents, not earlier than two years from the previous review. It recognizes the need for tenants to be paid for repairs carried out after obtaining prior written consent of the landlord", he said further.

The bill, according to him, would ensure a general downward review of rents to curb the arbitrary rents by setting maximum limits for rent as influenced by the location of the property.

"We would together make history by stemming the activities of shylock landlords and land speculators within the FCT. "This will also give the FCT residents, and indeed the masses of Nigeria, an opportunity to live worthy lives in befitting accommodations, " he said.

After heated debate, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary to look into it and submit its report in four weeks.

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