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Divergent Views Trails Senate Monthly House Rent Payment Bill

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The monthly house rent payment bill introduced by the senate with a view to alleviating the financial burden in rent payment to landlords by tenants is generating divergent views among Nigerians.

The Senate has passed for second reading a bill seeking to regulate rent payments in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi), specifically seeks to stop yearly advance payment of rents and compel house owners to collect rent monthly in arrears.

The bill makes it an offense for a landlord to demand the payment of rent in advance and replaces yearly rent with a monthly plan where the first three months will be paid for, followed by subsequent monthly payments.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP, Nigerian landlords and tenants aired varying opinions on the proposed monthly rent payment.

Opposing the idea of monthly rent payment, a tenant, simply identified as Nancy, a young accountant, said she prefers yearly over monthly rent payments.

“I prefer they leave it at that one year because it is not every day you get money, then you have to pay your landlord monthly. Yearly payment is okay. That is my own opinion, I do not know about other people,” she said.

Another tenant, Amos Udo a resident of Lugbe, said that the decision was unfair to tenants.

He said, “As a tenant, I think it is not fair that we should be paying every month; this is because if at the end of the month, you do not have the money to pay, a landlord can use the opportunity to evict you from the house. I do not support it.

“Rent payment should not be monthly. I live in a self-contain apartment in Port Harcourt and pay about N150,000 annually; let us divide N150,000 by 12; if by the end of the month, I do not have the money, how many weeks will I have to stay in my apartment before the landlord comes knocking? I do not support it because you can use the 12 months to gather the money for your rent.”

More so, another respondent, a middle-aged trader, Hauwa prefers the monthly rent, stating that paying rent monthly would give her the flexibility to explore more options for apartments.

She spoke about how convenient it is to move to a suitable location in a situation where she isn’t content with her current apartment and would not have to worry about how much it would cost her if she’s paying a year or two in advance.

Landlord, Joshua Olawale, said that due to the economic hardship, it is wiser for tenants to pay rent annually.

He said, “To my own knowledge, I think annual payment of house rent is the best. Considering the fact that the economy is not easy for everyone, we thank God everyone is doing fine.

However, paying house rent monthly cannot work. Even as we collect rent annually, there are some people that are finding it difficult to pay. At the end of the day, they begin to beg and give excuses.

“As a family man and a believer, I have to be considerate. In some instances, I have to collect lesser than the agreed amount. Even before they come up with the money, it is tough.”

Having a different view on the matter, another landlord simply identified as Adefemi, noted that Nigeria was one of the few countries in the world where landlords collect rent annually.

He suggested that the bill should instead focus on regulating the prices paid for rent and not how rent is paid.

It is unclear whether there was any consultation carried out before the Senator’s rent intervention but it appears, at least according to citizens, that annual payment is just fine. The cost rather than mode of payment might be an issue of bigger concern.

Mr. Abubakar, a landlord in Ushafa, Abuja said tenants will be at the receiving end. He opined that landlords who put his house up for rent under the condition of monthly payments would have the impression that if an individual is not willing to pay, another one would pay.

He said, “To me, it is a ‘cash out mentality’ for a landlord to ask for a year’s rent from their tenants. I have tenants in my house. Although that is what applies here, to me, it is not the best.

“I have been to about eleven countries in the world and it is only in Nigeria that they collect rent annually or bi-annually. Everywhere across the globe, house rent is paid monthly. Your rent should be tied to your income. When you get your income, you pay your rent and other bills. Waiting for a year then give your landlord the bulk sum is not the best.”

A tenant, Ejike Agu, while airing her views, said that for some people, it is easier to pay rent monthly.

“As a tenant in a house, I will suggest that we pay the rent monthly due to the situation of the country. Some people cannot afford to pay rent annually, but the monthly payments can easily help most people come up with the money.

“In this case, they can pay their rent and have money for some other things due to the situation in the country,” she said.

Similarly, Femi Uka, who is also a tenant, said, “I prefer they make us pay rent every month. People can afford monthly rent compared to paying annually. In Enugu, if you cannot afford annual rent or six months’ rent, you can pay monthly. It has made things easy for people. I think they should do the same thing in Abuja.”

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