The bill that seeks to regulate the mode of payment of rent in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has passed second reading the Senate.
It seeks to cut down advance payment of rents from one or two years by tenants to three months and subsequent monthly payments
If passed, it would be an offence for any landlord to demand payment of one or two years advance rent from tenants.
The lawmaker had said the legislation is targeted at the welfare and wellbeing of the downtrodden – majority of whom elected those holding public positions into offices.
Many residents of FCT, he said, are finding it very difficult to cope with huge rent payment – the reason many of the houses built for such purposes are empty.
The second reading of the bill was a sequel to a deliberation on some of its provisions.
Leading the debate, Mr Adeyemi said, if passed into law, the bill would make it easy for low income earners living in the nation’s capital, adding that the current yearly payment system has impoverished Nigerians living in the FCT.
“In the FCT, landlords demand between one to three years advance rent. This automatically has a huge burden on the masses. Our economy has not fared better in supporting the advance payment. This tenancy system has continuously impoverished Nigerians.
“Many residents of FCT are finding it difficult to cope with huge rent payments, therefore legislation must be made towards a better society.
“This bill seeks to reduce advance payment for new tenants to three months, seeks to protect low income earners from any form of oppression, seeks to provide a window of legal action for any form of oppression and a safety net for landlords against any tenant,” he said.
While Sabi Abdullahi, Ibrahim Gobir and Bala Na’Allah supported the bill, Chimaroke Nnamani opposed it.
Mr Abdullahi, the Senate Deputy Whip, described the legislation as one of the most people-centered bills.
He noted that many residents in the FCT are groaning under this difficult system where many people are expected to pay house rent in advance.
“It is a testimony of our commitment to the legislative agenda. Many FCT residents are groaning over this.
“With government’s withdrawal in the provision of official residences, many strive to get accommodation. It is difficult. Many resort to living in the outskirts.
“Even home owners will be satisfied if this system is put in place. It is a welfare system, one that is friendly to those who do not have.”
On his part, Mr Na’Allah said the current system encourages corruption among residents of the FCT.
“Let’s ask ourselves whether it is just to ask the Clerk of the Senate whose salary is not up to N800,000 to pay N2 million at once in advance. Where do you expect him to get that money?
“The system that we operate today encourages corruption. And if this Senate can take an action that gives more justification for public and civil servants not to get engaged in corruptions, it’s good.
“But where we operate a system that makes it impossible for people to survive under an ideal situation, I think we have not utilised the provisions of this constitution,” he said.
But Mr Nnamani said the plan should be driven by market forces.
“Such market forces as availability of land, cost of building materials, income.
“Government can go into housing schemes, mortgage schemes, credit facilities and not control the business of private individuals in an emerging African democracy. I vigorously oppose this bill,” he said.
The legislation comes on the heels of complaints by Abuja residents of the high cost and mode of payment of rent.
Some residents have decried the difficulty involved in getting accommodation due to the high cost and a few, who do, are asked to make advance payment of two or three years.
The cost of rent ranges from N1.5 million to N4 million depending on the size.
This has made many opt for accommodation in satellite towns like Nyanya, Kubwa, Lugbe, Kuje, among others.
When the passage of the bill was put to question, an overwhelming “ayes” was heard.
It was, thereafter, referred to the Committee on Housing for further legislative work.
The committee is to report back in four weeks.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999