Federal Government in its bid to drastically reduce the 17 Million Housing Deficit has started considering the possibility of gradually and consistently converting the number of increasing tenants into homeowners in the long run.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola who disclosed this at the 1st City People Real Estate, and Housing Lecture held in Lagos, said “with a focus on first-time owners, the only way to achieve the plan was through mortgage”.
Speaking on the deficiency in housing, a statement issued yesterday by Mr. Hakeem Bello, S.A Media to Fashola, identified the high cost of building materials as the cause of hike in purchase and rent prices consequently.
Fashola however lamented over the system of rent payment in the country, stressing that, “It reinforces the need for a credit system in our real estate sector, where payments for rent are matched not only to the quantum but also the timing of income.
“The present system whereby people who earn their salary monthly were made to pay rent in advance was abnormal. People, who get paid weekly, monthly or yearly, should pay their rent weekly, monthly or yearly.” He said.
According to the Minister, aside relieving a lot of pressure on ordinary working people, it would allow increased occupancy of many flats that are empty across the country, “because people cannot pay multiple year advance rent from weekly or monthly incomes they received in arrears.” He added.
While reinforcing the need for mortgage financing as a means to increase the rate of home ownership in the country, Fashola added that it would both reduce the frustrations of landlords who depend on their houses for income.
“Also, landlords who are saddled with defaulting tenants on one hand; and the trauma of families with children who are unsure when they will be thrown on the streets on the other hand,” adding that there are initiatives to generate alternative revenues.
He however noted that in all the nation’s post-independence history, only two major housing initiatives readily come to mind- the Lateef Jakande initiative which was Localised to Lagos, and the Shehu Shagari initiative which was National.
Fashola declared that, “One common thread they share is that they have not been replicated or continued – so sustainability is a problem.
“Another commonality was that they occurred at a time when our national currency was very strong. The Naira traded at almost parity with the Dollar which is our currency of reserve.
“Meanwhile, the Shagari Housing also did not incorporate enough diversity to reflect different weather and cultural differences in the country; and therefore, there were places where acceptability was low.” He explained.

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