NIESV: Government should Subject Underutilised Houses in Abuja to Property Tax

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Dele Ogbodo in Abuja

The President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Bolarinde Patuola Ajayi, has advocated for the introduction of property tax in all underutilised houses built inside Abuja, Lagos and other cities across the country.

Briefing some selected media houses in Abuja, Ajayi, said the institution was worried by the huge number of mansions and highrise residential buildings that have remained largely unoccupied in Abuja in the past three years.
While canvassing for the introduction of office of the Valuer-General in the country, he said: “Already, we know that there are houses that are vacant for almost three years and beyond in Abuja.

“One of the things that we are canvasing is for the establishment of the office of the Valuer-General where all properties in Nigeria will be identified and domiciled.

“There will be assembly of information on such housing stock, of all abandoned properties, which the office will also handle. There should be private developer tax for such houses that are not utilised.”

On assets declaration by public office holders, he said the institution’s stand is that the list of all assets declared should have a list of the value attached to it, adding that only members of the institution were recognised to carry out such function.

He said: “By so doing there will be no over declaration or under declaration, and this can also be clarified at the Code of Conduct Bureau should any issue arise in terms of location and valuation.”
According to him, efforts would be made to reposition the institution in the next two years through capacity building of members to make them conform to global standard in practice.

Ajayi said: “We want to be in tandem with global professionalism practice, framework, code of conduct and standardisation. We also have the aim of lifting up the profession, making it a household name before 2018, as we want every Nigerian to know what Estate Surveyors and Valuers is all about.”

He explained that 5,000 registered Estate Surveyors and Valuers in the country for 160 million people was grossly inadequate, adding: “We want to see how to build up these numbers with relevant qualification and training and that they are grounded and capable of representing the institution at various levels.”

On the high cost of rent across the country, the NIESV president said the dynamics of house rent was an interplay of demand and supply in the housing market.

“With house rents, regulations have been made many times to reduce rent, the problem of rent control is in the area of demand and supply of housing units. That is what dictates the effectiveness.
“There is constant and high demand and the rate at which people come into Abuja and Lagos is high compared to existing housing stock. What we are telling the government is that government at various levels should develop properties even to house its own staff.

“If this is done the remaining stock will attract less pressure on demand and rent will therefore fall, the lessee will have no option. Government should, however, give attention to the development of more stock.”
On the Minister of Power, Works and Housing’s pledge to deliver 7,000 houses annually, he said: “If he is able to accomplish 7000 units yearly, it will certainly bring the pressure on demand down,” adding that this would now fall back on the developers to bring their rents down.”