Lagos has a housing problem. We all know this, we bear witness to it, read about it, see it in several ways as we drive over or under Lagos bridges and abandoned bus shades, and at times, we live this devastating reality.
There has been a long, historical awareness around Lagos’ insufficient housing, bereft of planning, structure, or possible solutions. The possibility of finding a fair and affordable place of residence in Lagos is almost impossible and made even more difficult by bizarre real estate ethics and processes. There is also the non-existence of an accessible mortgage or a flexible rent payment culture. All of these problems continue to disproportionately affect the overwhelming number of Lagos residents with substantially low financial power, think working-class families, and young people living independently.
The new monthly rent policy suggested by the Lagos state government, on 24 September during the Policy Roundtable Dialogue comprising of key stakeholders in the Real Estate sector, is in that light, a welcome line of thinking. Having house owners, landlords, and real estate agents consider a flexible rent payment process would greatly bridge the housing gap many Lagosians are currently dealing with and ensure that people without the means to cover a year-in-advance payment no longer run the risk of being homeless until they can afford to pay.
This policy, if fairly integrated into the housing system will flatten the social curve and ensure increased access to good and affordable housing. Workers starting at their jobs can afford to secure good living arrangements that will significantly improve their productivity and sense of stability. People living in underserved communities can afford to move onto better living conditions, and the opportunities for real estate agents and developers are endless in a system where remuneration is flexible and immediate.
It is important to acknowledge the peculiarity of this arrangement and the loss it presents for some landowners with high investment on their property, but having the available option of year-long payments can allow them to make some return on their investment before phasing out into a monthly payment policy if they wish to. The point is for there to be a readily accessible housing option, and so whether a tenant can afford to pay monthly or yearly, there should be houses available for them.
It has been a long time coming but the people of Lagos really need this initiative. It could potentially improve the lives of many and boost the state’s GDP, by enabling more well-settled residents while opening it up to favorable economic possibilities.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.