Rent Bill: Abuja Shylock Landlords Threatening My Life, Adeyemi Alleges
Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, yesterday raised the alarm that his life was being threatened by some shylock landlords in Abuja, who felt uncomfortable with his bill which seeks to replace the current annual advance rent payment with monthly payment in arrears.
The bill scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate at plenary.
It sought to stop landlords in the Federal Capital Territory from demanding yearly advance rent payment from tenants.
The proposed legislation was titled, “A bill for an Act to regulate the mode of payment of rent on residential apartments, office spaces, etc in the FCT and for other matters connected therewith.”
The bill was aimed at ending the practice whereby landlords demand an upward yearly advance rent payment from tenants.
Adeyemi said the bill sought to replace the current annual advance rent payment with monthly payments in arrears, in order to make life meaningful for workers who are groaning in pains to pay their rents.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi supported the bill and explained that many residents of Abuja, “are groaning in pains to pay house rents in advance.”
He said the Senate would be helping poor Nigerians working and residing in Abuja if the bill was signed into law.
He described it as a welfare-oriented programme that would enjoy the support of Abuja workers and residents.
Senators Ibrahim Gobir and Bala Ibn Na’Allah also lent their voices to support the bill claiming that it would end corruption among the workers and immorality among the young ladies who engage in desperate activities to pay their rents.
A former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, however opposed the bill.
He said the payment of rent should be driven by market forces.
He insisted that the Senate should not dictate the rent payment modalities to the landlords when government was doing nothing to either regulate the cost of land and prices of building materials.
However, speaking with journalists after the plenary, Adeyemi said his life was already being threatened.
He said, “Some of the landlords have even started threatening me to do one or two things against me if I proceed with the bill and I just laughed.
“When you take up this type of job, it is between you and your God. We shouldn’t be afraid of what anybody could do to us.
“The bulk of the people who had acquired much property in Nigeria are those who had taken advantage of the system to corruptly enrich themselves. Unfortunately, they are the same set of people who believe that poor Nigerians should languish in poverty.
” I told one of my colleagues who felt strongly about the bill that he does not fear God who had been kind enough to him to own massive property. He is unfair to God and mankind.
“Meanwhile, another Senator who supported the bill said he recently had to pay N6.5m to bail out one of his sisters whose landlord had given her a quit notice.
“Most of the girls who hang around some streets in the Abuja city centre are professionals who are being forced into prostitution just to meet their obligations to the landlords.
“Many civil servants are stealing public funds not because they wanted to but because circumstances especially payment of rent which had skyrocketed.”
Adeyemi added that some Shylock landlords in the FCT were demanding between one to three years advanced rent.
He said the development automatically added, “a huge burden on the masses, subsequently giving rise to desperation and corruption.”
The Senator said, “Our economy has not fared better in supporting the advanced payment for accommodation.
“In a depressed economy such as ours, advanced payment for rents is indeed an outrageous tenancy arrangement.
“Even in United Kingdom and the United States where we derive our laws and system of Governance, a tenant can only pay for where he has lived for one month (postpaid).
“This tenancy system has continuously impoverished Nigerians who are salaried employees that can only pay rent after haven received their first remuneration. (In the event that he is lucky to be so paid). This tenancy system is unafrican, unislamic and indeed unbiblical.
“Many residents of the FCT are finding it difficult to cope with huge rent payment, and as an aftermath to this fact, many houses built within the city center for such purposes are empty.
“Therefore, legislation must be aimed towards a better and developed society, and towards justice, fairness, equity and improved standard of living.
“Yearly tenancy has continued to breed corruption, moral decadence and huge inequality as low income earners who cannot afford to continually pay their rent will, due to the exigencies of shelter for humanity, engage in measures which are unlawful, thereby engaging in corrupt practices, immorality, and even criminal acts to meet this pressing needs.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over the plenary, referred the bill to the Committee on Housing for further legislative actions.