The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PayMyRent, Nigeria, Mr. Damilare Ogunyemi, in this interview, encourages landlords to adopt monthly payments of house rent and what his company is doing to assist salary earners in paying their rent
The name PayMyRent is suggestive but what exactly do you do?
What we basically do is that we assist salary earners to pay their house rent and allow them pay their rent on a monthly basis though our platform. Our vision is to ease the problem associated with house rent in Nigeria.
What informed this and how long has it been on?
Pay my rent was launched three two months ago, precisely in October, and what brought about this was that my friends were calling me to see how they could borrow money to pay their house rents. I was wondering, yes recession is hitting people and they are getting out of job but they need shelter. They need money to pay house rent and it wasn’t forth coming. So I came up with this structure whereby people can pay their rents on a monthly basis. If you leave the shores of Nigeria, we discover that people pay house rent on a monthly basis. It’s only in Nigeria that landlords ask for two years upfront and your salary is not even up to what the land lord is asking for. So for you to meet up with that means you must be getting some huge chunk of salary which people in Nigeria presently don’t have. I don’t know what they pay people in banking. Maybe at the entry level, it would be 70,000 or thereabout. That would be around 800,000 a year and you are staying in an apartment of 300,000 and the landlord is asking for 600,000 upfront plus agreement. Meaning that a year after paying your rent, you are left with less than 200,000. How would people survive that?
So the plan we have in place is for people to be able to pay on a monthly basis. So if you set aside 20,000 out of 70, the remaining can be used for other things.
Now, in few weeks of operation, how has the feedback been?
Within the first 15 days of launch, we had 186 applicants; we gave 15 people loan to the tone of N 8.5 million, while others are were in documentation stage. So far, it has shown that this is what people really need. The only challenge we are having with people now is documentation process because we want to ensure that people pay back.
What are the criteria for giving out loan?
One, you must be working for a reputable organisation that has been paying your salary constantly. That’s why we request for six months bank statement. From the Statement, we know your salary date and if it’s paid regularly. We’ve partnered with organisations like Credit Bureau of Nigeria. From there, we can assess everyone’s data. If you have collected loan before and defaulted, or you have given someone a check that bounced at the bank, you can’t qualify. We check all these to know your credit worthiness.
Who now pays the landlord?
What we do is that if you approach us first, we check the apartment you want to rent and we pay your rent in bulk to the landlord. Then you now start paying us back on a monthly basis. For instance, if you are transferred from Abuja to Lagos and you have nowhere to stay, we give you accommodation and ask you to seek for the accommodation you like. When you find, we pay for it. Then you pay back on a monthly basis. What we want to do is reduce the stress of Nigerians and make more people be able to afford accommodation.
Is there any provision for those who are not salary earners?
For now, we give to salary earners. But if you are a star-up entrepreneur, we encourage them to pay themselves salary. So if you pay yourself, that’s the salary account we request for. Whether is your business or not, we check your salary account. If you are not paying yourself, it means you consume everything.
Is it deliberate that this is coming up while we are in recession?
Yes, we came in because this is the period people need money for rent, school fees, transport, feeding. So, if N100, 000 can conveniently do all that before, it can’t do it now. Therefore one needs support to be able to sustain with what is available. Government cannot really support everybody that is why private individuals like us are coming on board. With this product, we are supporting Nigerians, especially Lagosians to be able to retain their accommodation. So if you can’t afford your house rent because you just paid your child’s school fees, you can come to us. We would pay that rent for you, so you can now spread the payment over 12 months duration.
What is your plan for other cities outside Lagos?
We started our operation in Lagos because we have all the facilities already in Lagos. We have partner agents, already in Lagos and we are working on Abuja and Port Harcourt. We aim to cover the whole of Nigeria within two year. By next month, we are starting in Abuja and Port Harcourt.
Who are your partners, especially among the financial institutions?
We have international organisations that have bought into this and invested. We also have local investing partners, while other investors are private individuals.
We have opened up our investment portal on how people can invest in the company. How that works is that, Mr A can bring money to pay the house rent of Mr B, and while Mr B is paying back, Mr A is getting back his money with interest. What we plan to do with that is people with extra funds can invest in PayMyRent. This is more lucrative than fixed deposit. Right now, whatever you invest, we give 1.5 percent interest on it monthly. That accumulates to about 18 percent interest for a year. I don’t know what bank gives that.
What are your means of reaching out to potential clients?
We are running adverts and doing company partnership through meetings with companies. For instance, a bank can tell us that it has just got a staff and that we should get the staff accommodation. We pay the rent and the company pay us back on a monthly basis. That’s for companies who get accommodation for their staff. If a staff request for rent loan and the company can’t give, they can refer the staff to us by sending us a letter. The good news for corporate partnership is that if they approach us and it’s the company paying, the interest rate is lower. If it’s individual the rate is a bit higher because with the corporate, the risk is lower.