As the federal government strengthens its efforts to resolve the challenges currently facing the provision of adequate housing in the country, the United Kingdom’s housing strategy, where both ownership and rental have been the stronghold of the system for several decades, is likely to be adopted by the present administration in order to considerably reduce the estimated 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola hinted this while addressing one of the leading professional bodies in the Nigerian real estate industry, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, NIESV, in Abuja lately.
The minister reminded the group of the role Nigeria recently played as host to a delegation of several African ministers at the HABITAT III United Nations summit at the International Conference Centre on February 24 to 26 in Abuja.
According to the statement issued by his special adviser on Communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, the minister indicated that “in countries like the UK, where there is a successful housing scheme that has run for almost a hundred years, only about 64 percent have become home owners while about 36 percent still live in rented accommodation.
“This mixture of housing, comprising ownership and rental, is the strategy that must be addressed in detail to deal with the housing deficit.
“Therefore, we must talk about affordable housing not only in terms of access to government housing for purchase, but also in terms of privately owned houses for rent,” he said.
Fashola also recalled that at the end of the sessions, a document titled ‘ABUJA Declaration’ was issued, which represented a common front of African nations about how they propose to deal with urbanisation.
Some of the instructive issues addressed in the document concerned familiar topics such as housing, rural planning, mobility, transportation, water supply and clean air to mention a few.
Fashola acknowledged that “it is no secret that we are faced with a housing deficit that we must reduce, what is debatable is of course the size of the deficit.
“But whatever the size of the deficit, the first step to reducing it starts with a clear plan, which the Ministry is already working on, and not with lamentations,” he noted.
Still on plans the ministry intends to use in resolving the housing deficit, Fashola assured that very shortly, they would be unveiling the details of that plan to Nigerians, and how they intend to use it to re-ignite and diversify the economy on a sustainable basis.
He pointed out, “Be that as it may, the other point to note is that no matter how hard we try, government acting alone cannot provide all the housing supply that people need.
“In the same vein, not everybody will be able to own a house no matter how cheap they ultimately become, and therefore some people must rent.”
The minister then informed the professionals that it is at this stage the private sector and their associations come in.
While addressing the issue of absence of credit in the nation’s housing system, he said, “How do we value houses for sale and for rent? And how fair is the practice of asking the tenant or buyer to pay 10 percent legal fees and 10 percent agency fees when the legal practitioner and estate agent acted for the landlord and did not represent the tenant or the buyer? What is the estate valuers’ association doing about this?” the minister asked NIEVS.

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