As the nation’s population increases, there is a manifest insufficiency of the availability of houses for them. Especially, as the rural-urban drift of the population becomes, largely uncontrollable.
Added to this, is the crave of Landlords of houses in these urban areas to continue to increase rents placed on living apartment they provide to members of the public. The tenants, therefore come under grave inconvenience.
The inconvenience, also include the landlord’s unwholesome desire for love and determination to evict a tenant who is unable to pay the new rent without the required period of quit notification of three months.
The situation is the same in all cities including Port Harcourt and its suburbs. There , a room’s monthly rent goes for between five thousand naira or more in the old Port Harcourt Township and three thousand, five hundred naira and more in other parts of the metropolis.
This is, however, different from a rather lower rent on houses charged in other cities like Ibadan, Aba, Owerri, Lagos and Warri.
Tenants, often times, are compelled to seek help elsewhere for financial support and sometimes, go borrowing to raise the required money to pay for the, rather, irrational rent in Port Harcourt.
But there are indications that respite may come the way of tenants, across the country, if the public pronouncement by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aaandookaa, of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to checkmate the skyrocketing house rents across the country is vigorously enforced.
But would the needed commitment ever come?
If it does come, Landlords would not have the whims to exploit tenants anymore or for a very long time.
However, the public pronouncement has been greeted with a mixed feeling. But the feeling also accepted it as a position long expected.
They said it was a misnomer for Landlords to operate without a guide on their exploitative overtures and be allowed to make living unbearable for the tenants.
Workers are said to spend about 50% of their monthly income on rent alone in Port Harcourt and less in other metropolitan across the country.
Living apartments, often times, lack necessary facilities for the comfort of the tenants. The Landlords care less of this situation once they have collected their yearly rent.
There is the wonder why rents on a room should compete with the rent on one or two bedroom flats in other states.
This is a big problem and it is seen as a deliberate neglect by government to enforce the required standard. The outcry is that the Federal Government should speedily address the problem so that workers and other citizens can own property to make majority of the people not to be victims as well as tackle the house shortage challenge.
But some Landlords also reacted to the public pronouncement complaining that most tenants do not pay up their rent when it was due.
They also pinned the high rent on the high cost of building materials and maintenance which make them to request for one or two years up- front payment.
Some legal practitioners described the pronouncement as a verbal statement that does not have the force of Law.
They said the tenancy laws as adopted by the federating states, provide measures that are actionable in the event of a formal complain.
They said the Attorney general would need to consult widely with states and other stakeholders to achieve an effective and realistic rent in any state.
While it is observed that the existing laws are obsolete and needed to be reviewed, there is a wonder if what it would be reviewed soon. Is it what Mr. Michael Aaandookaa meant, when he made the public pronouncement? Or will he promulgate another?
The public would also need to know the proper definition on the short and long term lease tenancy laws.