Sunday, March 23, 2014


There are so many views on the property market. I was speaking to a property professional, who is of the opinion that the market has remained the same as last year; another says it is picking up. I personally believe that it is all a risk and you just have to take the plunge whenever you feel comfortable to do so. Banks should inject some mortgage incentives into the property market and reduce the high interest rates which are being charged at the moment, the conditions that also come with them are unrealistic. This high pay back rate is precisely the reason why so many people fail to take out mortgages or to make their existing repayments.

I was surprised to see a block of flats in Ikoyi back on the market after I had been told earlier this year that it had been taken by a corporate client. Apparently the client promised to take all the 6 units if the landlord carried out some remedial works to the apartments before they moved in. The landlord proceeded with the works, and then the clients decided they did not want the apartments anymore! After a prolonged battle with the clients, the landlord had to put the properties back on the market. Landlords should never proceed with extra works requested by clients unless a commitment has been made in writing and a deposit paid. I have also noticed a trend of new developers excluding boys quarters in their properties and instead build an extra room within the house, which is referred to as ‘the maids room’ or provide nothing at all. This can be quite limiting if you have staff as there is the lack of privacy on both sides as well as having to install extra security in the house because you have a stranger living with you. It helps when you have a BQ outside the house as drivers etc may need to use the bathroom or sleep over if they have been working late or you travel.

I must mention that on the Lekki Expressway, though the VGC roundabout has opened wich is a blessing for the residents, the entrance into Ikota Shopping centre has been removed, creating a bottleneck of traffic. People going to Ikota shopping centre now have to go all the way to Ajah roundabout, which for some strange reason is always gridlocked even though it is always fully manned by traffic police, and have to turn back round at the roundabout to come back all the way to Ikota, wasting so much time. It is unreasonable that VGC residents who need to shop in Ikota, which is a few yards away from their gate, have to take a trip all the way to Ajah first! The road works being carried out by LCC has caused misery to the lives of Lekki residents for years and seems to be getting worse. I will admit that some parts of the road have improved, but it is safe to say that the works remain uncoordinated. As for the toll gates, that is a chapter for another day!


I am sure we all remember Bar Beach and either going for day outs there or just viewing it from the Ahmadu Bello coastal Road which ran along the beach front. We all knew just a few years ago when the waves from the beach flooded the roads and buildings in the surrounding areas. Well, the beach has totally disappeared, I mean TOTALLY. I was driven two miles unto the newly reclaimed sand filled land, where the ocean waves recently surged. It was an unbelievable surreal experience, I literally felt sea sick. A year ago you could see the ocean a few yards away, now it has been sand filled two miles into the sea and will be filled six miles along the coast line. It is a real ongoing transformational miracle of this generation. 

 Lagos State is more than a fifth covered in water with Lagoons all around with prime land like Victoria Island sitting at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The former governor of Lagos State when he was in power was worried about the sea eroding the island’s coastline which lay above sea level, and businesses along the coastal highway being regularly flooded. He enlisted the Lebanese-Nigerian property developer G Chagoury of Nigeria’s Chagoury Group in 2003/2004, to reclaim land from the ocean and put up a sea wall along the island’s original coastline. The newly reclaimed land between the former shore and the new wall will eventually be a total of ten square kilometers. Luxury apartments, retail outlets, skyscrapers with businesses, parks, and a man-made marina providing accommodation selling from $600,000 off plan for more than two hundred and fifty thousand super wealthy residents will be built on this reclaimed land. This is a multi-billion-dollar project which also includes plans to build the tallest building in Africa, sixty floors high. The irony of all this is that Victoria Island which adjoins this Mega City is no longer properly maintained. There is inadequate parking facilities and failing infrastructure with the over development of commercial businesses. The original master plan has not been maintained which was for VI being a residential area only. This is the access area to our future Mega City!

What cannot be ignored is that with the daily increase in population in Lagos, there will be the need for regeneration of more areas and accommodation at much more affordable prices. Ninety eight per cent of the population in Lagos will not be able to afford to live in the Mega City. Where will the houseboys, cooks, drivers etc live if accommodation cannot be provided for them on this gold mine? Whilst our current Governor has done so much to improve the lives of the residents, much more still needs to be done, he cannot do it alone and will need investors who have the vision and means to improve the city. Roads are still bad, schools and hospitals falling apart, erosion eating out the coastline  and damaging homes along the Lekki Expressway which seems to be increasing alarmingly since sand filling works started.

Looking at the Eko Atlantic Project on paper now seems like futuristic dream that will unravel between now and 2020. I guess if Dubai can do it, then just maybe Lagos can? Maintenance will need to be first class priority


I came across an incident the other day in which a property owner had a house that was too big for him to live in alone whilst his family was abroad and rented out part of it to a manager in one of the banks on the Island. He did this on a gentleman’s agreement for one year and felt there was no need to put anything in writing as it may offend the banker who he felt lucky to have found. At the expiry of the agreement, the banker refused to leave even though the owners family was due to return, the owner thought that if he gave him an extra month rent free, he would leave at the end of that month. Unfortunately the banker has refused to move and the owner is now stuck as he has no legal redress and cannot throw him out

If you are the owner of a property and decide to rent a part of your home to a tenant, the legal situation in terms of the tenancy is quite different to that which governs and assured or shorthold tenancies. If the tenant does not have exclusive use of the property, it usually means that they will have a 'license to occupy' the property. You should still sign a legally binding agreement with the tenant, but this will not be a standard tenancy agreement. The document should be a licence that specifies that the landlord has the legal right to unrestricted access to the occupant's property, It may turn out that he never goes in there, but he will retain the right to for such activities such as repairs or decoration.

Licenses to occupy also usually replace other types of tenancy ie for mini flats within houses. The internal arrangements of the property may mean that you do not share any portion of the accommodation with the tenant, but the tenancy will still be legally seen as a license, it is normally no problem for the tenant to extend the term of the license agreement, but make sure that you renew the agreement in writing. If you are using a lettings agent, there will normally be a renewal fee and you will also have to pay lettings agent fees again. A written document makes it very much easier to sort out any disputes that occur. If you do not have a written tenancy agreement, you are obliged by law to provide the tenant within the main terms of the tenancy in writing within 28 days of their requesting it. This includes the start date, expiry date, amount and frequency of rent payments and rent review arrangements. It is usually best to get a tailored tenancy agreement drawn up. This will make sure that it addresses any issues that are specific to the property

If you are a little more confident in your understanding of legal documents, you can use a standard tenancy agreement and remove any unnecessary clauses or add any additional ones that are required. The agreement can be modified to cover the specific needs of your property - garden maintenance, pets, security and so on.The agreement that you draw up should always include a clause that permits you to take back possession of the property if the tenant does not pay the rent or is in any other way in breach of the contract. The tenancy agreement should be signed by both tenant and landlord, although a lettings agent can sign it on his behalf.


As the popular saying goes “wonders shall never cease” when I think I have seen and heard it all, something always crops up to surprise me. During the week I had a viewing request from an estate agent colleague for one of his clients. I agreed to meet them at the property, only to get there and he said the client was running late. After a few minutes, he rang to say the client had already viewed the property the day before and was in the process of negotiating with the estate managers!  He said his client was offering to send me phone recharge cards as an apology for wasting my time…Words failed me but I actually found it very funny! I did tell my colleague I had to write about it even though he begged me not to.

On Monday 30th September 2013 six of the new private electricity investor companies and nine distribution companies were awarded certificates by the Federal Government to commence works immediately. What this potentially means for millions of Nigerians is “hope” that our homes, businesses and lives will be improved. In reality power generation has never been worse; most areas in Lagos have little or no electricity. The task ahead for these new private companies is daunting. I read that things will get worse (if that is possible) before we see any improvements. God help us all.

It will be interesting if an analysis is done on our property market from Independence to date, which is 53 years of market research. I am sure we will see major changes in the last thirty years and in particular in the last ten years. In Lagos alone where we have seen the population rise from 7million just fifteen years ago, to over 17 million today. Nowhere is it more evident that there is a shortage of affordable housing, than in Lagos State where prices are over inflated yet massively in demand. On the topic of demand, an International property internet company has set up shop in Lagos on the Island. Of course they know there is money to be minted in Lagos and there is a gap in our internet presence, so they have moved in. I visited their offices and was amazed at the set up, it was like being in Silicone Valley, rows and rows of people at desks in open plan offices, both Nigerian and foreign, running various online companies with head offices in France and Belgium. It brought to mind the incongruity of Nigeria importing oil when we already have oil...The property company is aiming to hit Nigeria and the world with a sledgehammer, they want property companies and owners to pay them vast sums of money to advertise their properties, the only problem is that property companies do not get paid by property owners to take on properties, so how can you justify paying an internet company thousands of naira to advertise properties that you have no guaranty of selling or letting out through your company, when everyone knows that property owners place their properties with as many agents as they can, to maximize coverage. So, as you can see there appears to be a loophole here. The Nigerian market unfortunately does not follow any laid down rules. They however seem to be doing a good job of advertising and getting good quality properties on their site. They have the money and the international backing to make a difference, something that a lot of small property companies in Lagos do not have, so, are we a dying breed?