You would think renting an apartment in Lagos would just be: find a place that suits you, pay the landlord and move in, right?
See, Lagos is not like any city on earth (I say this in every piece). Lagos is just Lagos, I can’t explain it. Also, an apartment can be anything from a three bedroom flat to a self contained room and can be anywhere: Lekki, VI, Yaba, Ikeja, Berger, or one of those places in Ogun State that like to claim Lagos; as we say in Warri, all join.
So, here are nine things you should look out for/do that will save you a lot of stress and hopefully (hopefully, because, again, this is Lagos) help you get an apartment you can like.
- Get yourself a reliable agent. Ask people who have recently rented an apartment the person they used. Make sure to get a good agent because some of them are so bad, they’ll beg the landlord to increase the rent just so their commission can be higher.
- Fix a budget, and stick to it. This is so that when the agent starts going above your budget you can tell him bye-bye. The bye will reset his brain.
- When you’re shown a place, look well and ask questions. Is there steady power supply? (steady by Nigerian standards). Is there running water? How’s the security? If your agent isn’t providing answers, you can casually chat with people living around your intended abode. Buy recharge card from the lady around the corner and ask her questions.
- Check the activities of area boys. I put this separately from security for a good reason. There are armed robbers and there are area boys that steadily obtain stuff and no one can do much about them. Where I live, one day our generator grew four legs, walked out, entered one of the cars parked in the compound and drove off. Car and generator vanished. This is a fenced compound with gate and all.
- Note the distance of the apartment from your place of business and direction of traffic. What is the point of renting a cheap house on the outskirts of Lagos and then spending all your salary on transportation travelling to work every day? Or spending 5/6/7 hours in traffic every day?
- The tenancy law in Lagos says landlords should collect one year rent, but they all demand for two or more (ole!). Anyway, except you have the strength to report them to the relevant authorities and start ‘dragging’ the matter, I suggest you keep looking for a sane landlord who will accept one year rent.
- When you’ve found a place that meets your most important criteria, take a deep breath and pay for it. Don’t check your account balance afterwards. That’s how High blood pressure starts!
- There is this thing called agreement fee. Now, I am not sure what you are agreeing for and why you have to pay for 2 years at once. You’ll also pay two years worth of agent’s fee (10% of the rent) and another extra for damages which thèy call caution fee. Then when they give you your receipt what you find is just the rent. Nothing else will reflect. Don’t cry, consider it as miscellaneous.
- When people over charge for their services what is that called? It is plain robbery. You will meet them. People, who want to paint a room for 30k, make a simple bed frame for 50k. Stick to your budget, Check google for cheap ways to decorate your house. How much is a dollar to the naira again? If like me, you don’t own anything and are just starting, it is okay to buy them bit by bit. Mattress today, curtains tomorrow, pots next week, because as yoruba people say; I cannot come and go and die. Except your father is Dasu…sorry, Santa Claus, go all out and splash. Please invite us for the house warming party.
So, tell me, in case I left something out: what else do you have to look out for when renting in Lagos?