The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday gave its total support to the Bill proposing the introduction of monthly house rent for residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Introduced by the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the Nigerian Senate, Smart Adeyemi, the bill titled “Advanced Rent (Residential Apartments, Office Spaces, eqtc.) Regulation Bill 2022” has already gone through the first reading in the Senate.
The bill seeks to provide for a maximum of three months advance rent payment in the first instance, and subsequently a monthly payment for the rest of any tenancy lease throughout the Federal Capital Territory.
The bill also seeks to make it an offence for any landlord in the FCT to demand an annual payment of advance rent from tenants.
The sponsor of the bill said this proposal was aimed at providing legal support for Nigerians, especially workers, who do not own houses of their own, and are most times exposed to exploitation by greedy, shylock landlords.
The private member bill is an improvement on the Lagos Tenancy Law, which under Section 4 on Advance Rent, outlaws the payment of rent in excess of six months and one year.
The bill is also in tandem with the rent regime in most parts of the world, especially as it obtains in contemporary African countries, including South Africa and Kenya.
In supporting the bill, the Nigeria Labour Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, said in a statement: “Nigerian workers welcome this legislative initiative by Senator Smart Adeyemi who is also a Comrade as a former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), an affiliate of the NLC.
“We also recall that the issue of high rents in urban places like Abuja was raised during the recent NLC National Roundtable on Social Protection Cover where Senator Smart Adeyemi represented the Chairman of the Roundtable, HE Senator Ibrahim Shekarau.
“It is heartwarming that Senator Adeyemi took to heart the concerns of Nigerian workers on the asphyxiating trauma occasioned by high rent hence this bill.”
The NLC President said we need to again make the point that Nigerian workers are paid on monthly basis, and so would be “inconceivable, callous and wicked to expect them to pay rent on a yearly basis.”
He said the crisis of house rent in Abuja, in particular, was so problematic that it has become the sub-burner for all manner of social misnomers, such as official corruption, prostitution, and violent crimes in urban centres, particularly the FCT.
He said as a result of the problem, most Nigerians are put under the insufferable pressure to make a lot of money to afford a roof over their heads.
“We hope that the passage of this bill will rescue many Nigerian workers and ordinary people from the rent-siege,” Wabba said.
He reiterated Labour’s earlier calls on the government, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory Administration and relevant agencies of government responsible for the provision of houses, to double up on their efforts to make decent houses, particularly lands, available and affordable to Nigerian workers and people.
“We also remind government that the right to shelter is a fundamental human right and the Nigerian Constitution places a burden on the Nigerian government to redeem this obligation.
“While renewing our commitment to consummate the various ongoing engagements with relevant government agencies on the provision of mass houses for workers and the masses, we again salute the solidarity and patriotism shown by Senator Smart Adeyemi,” the NLC President said.