By Yinka Kolawole
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has denounced the practice of demanding excessive agency fees from prospective tenants in Lagos, thereby adding to the already prohibitive costs of rent for the masses in the state.
Fashola stated this while receiving members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Valuers and Surveyors (NIEVS) in his office in Ikeja, adding this practice along with advance payments of, sometimes, between three and four years has further hindered accessibility to affordable accommodation in the state.
According the governor, the basis for charging fees as high as 15 percent as agency fee is indefensible, charging the estate valuers to furnish his office for the reason for such charges.
“If we begin to put mark up of five, 10 and 15 per cent on properties we want to let out, it makes it more difficult for poor people to get homes. The cost of getting a home having to pay two years rent and then pay estate fees of 10 or 15 percent in addition to solicitor fees of 10 per cent takes the rent out of the reach of the ordinary man,”, he said.
Fashola told the estate managers and valuers that while they are enjoying the boom in property business in the state, they also realise that they are rendering social service and as such not embark on undue profiteering. He said that as property values go up the expectation is that there will be a downward spiral in the commission that are being charged so that an improvement can be achieved in the size of the commonwealth rather than diminish it.
Fashola said the state has invested substantially in the development of a Geographical Information System (GIS) for Lagos, which would soon be deployed so that people can access maps and data about every inch of real estate in the state. He said the state is heading towards a land utilization policy aimed at preserving and getting the best value out of every land.
According to him, the state had embarked on mortgage and housing policies that require land assessment which are areas of competence of the estate surveyors and valuers.
“Our mortgage and housing policies continue to require your professional expertise, your assessment and valuation of properties and land, but even after the houses have been built they need to be managed and maintained,” he said.
NIEVS President, Mr. Bode Adediji, had earlier in his remarks commended the Lagos State government for proposing to set up a Facility Management Agency for the management and maintenance of government_owned properties. He appealed that members of his professional group be allowed to head the agency.