House hunting can be easy and at the same time can be really handwork but most importantly there are some things that individuals fail to confirm , check and consider before they finally sign an agreement to rent a house.
Getting a place to rent can be quite a challenge. It could take anywhere from a few days to few weeks or even more.especially house hunting in big cities such as Lagos is a major task in one’s life.
So Before you rent an apartment,flat or house you should keep a few things in mind, check out my Tips below
#1 What Location are you really looking for ?
Your Location is a defining factor in house hunting. You should ask yourself , what kind of place am i looking for ? Are you looking for a small place, on a budget ? How accessible is your place by transport system ?
When considering location you should also consider distance of your place of work, traffic strategic points, transport cost etc. If you have a car ,is your road transport-friendly? is there a good parking space etc.
Have you considered the proximity to your place of work ? if your office is located at these high end areas beyond your budget, it is best advised to get a place that is affordable and relatively close to your place of work as to the high population density in Lagos. In other words, ALWAYS CHOOSE THE NEAREST OPTIONS TO YOUR WORKPLACE.
Do you have to walk for long or even take a bike before you get to the bus stop ? o try and look for accommodation in places that are closer to your place of work, closer to commuters bus- stops.
What of Your place of worship ? Is there a church or mosque close by ? it is not as important as your place of work but it depends on you.
Is the location in a remote place or How far is your apartment from the city /town ? Just Ensure there is good access road and probably proximity to a bus stop.
What of shops and markets? consider a location that is not too far from the local market, malls, boutiques, grocery stores, pharmacist, hospital, clubs, schools and every other commercial and social activities.
#2 Agents PALAVA!!
This is a major one, to be sincere Most Agents in LAGOS cant be trusted o.(I told you here first). You have to be a step ahead of him/her.But you still need them to get that house you are looking for most times.
When i was house hunting i met several types of Agents , both the ones who will want to overcharge , some might even dupe you . It is preferable to get an agent from someone who has used his services before at least you have a little bit of confidence etc.
Don’t give these agents the total rent till your are sure that the apartment is vacant , insist you speak with the landlord and if he tries to persuade you from doing do by giving excuses then something is fishy.
#3 Online Services ????
Online house hunting is another means of getting a house from your comfort zone but don’t forget this is still Nigeria o. You still have to be sharp and wise. There are various platforms for doing so online especially if you have a busy schedule.
Lamudi is an example of an online platform to house hunt at your convenience.
Question: Would you prefer House hunting online or you would rather do this physically ?
This is a big one. Lagos is a huge city that is located near the coast .
Rainy season in Nigeria, especially Lagos can be one of the ugly times of the year for residents. Floods are a major risk as lives and properties are lost most times, you have to make you research how the location you have chosen responds to flooding risk.
So i wouldn’t want you yo wake up one morning homeless or worse wake up to see your bed floating on water…just kidding
But this is very important. If you have seen a place and you desire it ,and you think you can cope then that fine.
Don’t let the beauty of a particular area convince you into moving there, all that glitters is not gold.
Quick Tip: In order to avoid this , why not check out an apartment , or the location during rainy season as you will see the effect of the heavy rains and make your choice clearer.
#5 When do you view a place ?
When house hunting , its advisable from experts and experienced persons such as me *winks* to view the property both during the Day and Evenings. This is majorly for security reasons. Some places have a deceptive look during the day but at night something else..
Assuming you have made that choice of an accommodation , ensure you double check the neighborhood before you sign an agreement .
#6 Check For Defects in the property
It would be kinda sad for you to move into a house just to find out that there are defects that were not noticed before.
Please do check for cracks on the wall, are the water pipes working ? is the roof leaking ? inspect the plumbing, check if toilets can flush , if there is water source and ensure they are OK ,check the doors , windows etc and make sure they are all in good working condition . Do the windows open? Do the appliances work? Ask about mildew, smoke alarms, and snow removal.
Ensure major issues are sorted before you move in .
#7 Mobile Reception
This might not be big deal , but i feel it is o. You don’t want to move into a house or apartment or flat that has no network service- mobile dead zone.
You don’t want to be climbing trees to look for mobile reception..
#8 Have you met the Landlord?
This can sometimes be impossible especially when the agents give you one story or the other. If possible it would be nice to do so.. it’s preferable if you can rent directly from the landlord.
Most times people are lucky enough to get an accommodation from the owner directly. My last house i rented i was lucky enough to do so. But sometimes it can turn out to be a bad idea as over-familiarity sets in . So i prefer a middleman , thats where the Agents come in.
It’s safer for you to remit the rent fee to the landlord’s bank account at least your teller serves as prove of payment.During negotiations with the ‘Agent’, subtly suggest you will like to speak with the landlord.
Quick tip: Sometimes if the rent for an apartment is too good to be true, it is a telltale sign that something is wrong somewhere.
#9 Ensure all promises made are fulfilled before you move in
Be cautious if the landlord promises to fix things before you move in or that he’ll get to it sometime after you move. If your landlord makes promises about fixing the house, make him write them down with the date the work will be completed — preferably before you move in.
#10 What’s your budget ?
This is another huge determining factor m, in-fact this is the most important. Your budget limits you to the kind of areas you would find places to live.
Consider your pocket , ensure there is no hidden fees to be paid. Ask yourself if you can meet up with payments. Double check the rent details , how much it is , when it would be due. etc
Be Budget-wise places such as Lekki , VGC, Ikoyi etc. are high tenancy rates area. So you wouldn’t take a budget of 300,000 naira/per annum for an apartment there.
Also cross-check that there are no hidden fees .for example an agent can tell you the rent is 200,000 naira per annum but you are not aware of the fees such as 10% legal fees and 10% agency etc. Most rents are paid 2 years in advance , which means you have to be able to provide 500,000 naira.
Note: the rent tribunal act stipulates the prescribed rent per area and the prohibition of landlords from taking rent beyond 1 year
#11 Tenancy Agreement
In case you don’t know what this is, its the legal document you sign before renting a property. Make sure you read through thoroughly before you sign .
Understand the contract and ask questions where necessary. Before signing, read, and if necessary get professional advice on, any documents you have to sign.
The option of renewal of tenancy after 2 years should be stated and 6 months notice mus be served before terminating tenancy.
Imagine a tenancy agreement that states the time you must come into the compound , what you must do and not do , that you cant receive visitors etc.. very ridiculous. So you have to read this documents very well
#12 Fees, commission , deposits etc.
This is the part the agents enjoy the most . You have to know that you can be asked to pay .
Agents Commission which is a 10% fee, Deposits (sometimes called caution fee) for prospective damages which would be returned to you when moving out of the property if you don’t damage anything.
Note that if you didn’t use an agent , you wouldn’t have to pay the agents fee…
#13 Furnished or Unfurnished
Well its rare to see furnished houses in Lagos, but there are few that are furnished to an extent, so check that and add costs of furnishing to consider your budget.
This is essential .
In as much as there is no guarantee of the safety and security of lives and property in Lagos there are some things you should check .
First you check if the doors, windows are vulnerable to robbers , burglars. What of the neighborhood, immediate surrounding ? Check if the fences and walls are secure.
There are some areas that are more secure than others , Places like Mushin i heard is noted for high rates of thuggery and criminality. Everyone cannot live in the more secure places like Lekki, VGC, and Banana Island etc.
Just beware of these notorious hot-spots that have a history of high crime rate and are riot-prone.
#15 Basic Amenities
Very important there should be basic amenities provided at least. So find out if there is Steady electrical supply in that location ? Roads ? Is there clean water supply? Any local supermarket or kiosk nearby ?
One important thing i always look out for is where to but recharge cards for my phone.
Also , consider of there is any hospital or medical facility around for urgencies.
Hint: I heard that places that have good electric supply are relative. So if senior PHCN officials, prominent politician lives in that area or there is an unholy alliance between PHCN staff and Companies around there.
#16 Lagos State Laws
There are laws that guide renting a house or being a tenant in Lagos. You need to know this so that you wont be cheated and also wouldn’t be found wanting. Foe example
It shall be unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant rent in excess of three (3) months in respect of any premises.
It shall be unlawful for a sitting tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of three (3) months in respect of any premises.
Question: Are these laws implemented in your area ?
17# Collect Your Receipt
After you have made your payment , please ensure you collect your receipt as a proof of payment . This should include
(a)Date of which rent was received;
(b) Name of the landlord and the tenant;
(c) Location of premises in respect of which the rent is paid
(d) Amount of rent paid; and
(e) Period to which the payment relates.
If your payment is not issued a receipt , it means no legal payment has been made and Proof not available should there be any issue.
#18.Know Your Rights
It is good to know your essential rights as a tenant . under Lagos state law.
The Landlord does not have the right to disturb you etc. So you should also respect the Landlord’s Right to and perform your obligations as a tenant too.
Get yourself acquainted with the Tenancy act/law and the Constitution for Lagos state. As they supersede some of these clauses stated in the tenancy agreement.
Sadly most tenants are ignorant of their rights, tenants who cant afford to hire a lawyer can seek help from the Public Defender Office or Citizen Mediation Centers. The introduction of the Lagos state tenancy law , the era of wicked landlords imposing ridiculous laws are over.
Quick Tip:The tenancy law also forbids landlords or their agents from disrupting essential amenities: electricity, water supply etc to the tenant.
#19 Ask Questions
Always ask questions from neighbors, and people who leave around that vicinity as this will give you more information on your proposed choice of apartment. Ask questions from the agent and the landlord where necessary. Can you paint , install certain equipments in the house ?
If you are planning on renting a flat or apartment in a high-rising building , find out if the lifts are functioning properly. There should be availability of a lift facility and also backup generators should be there in the time of power failures.
#21 Building Age
I am sure you have heard about recent building collapse and aftermaths. I wouldn’t want you to fall victim , if you can try please do inquire about age of the building. Also apart form mishaps, f the building is older then you should compare it with the price you give and see whether it is worth or not.
#22 Are you Secured Enough
Apart from you having checked if our doors and windows are well built to prevent burglary and unwanted access to your property, Does the compound or facility have a security guard assigned. If there is no provision for that then you can find alternative means. As i said earlier, ask around , ask out the recent security occurrences.
If you can afford it, please go for the secured locations. As you and i know , security is important and shouldn’t be compromised. it is advisable to pay extra service charge if you can afford it or get additional security personnel for locations you feel is not secured.
#23 My special distance tip
If you stay on the mainland and work on island, it is advisable to get a place on the mainland areas close to island as this would help manage your budget and also prepare you for economic recessions. Places such as Ikeja, Gbagada, Surulere , Maryland etc. are cheaper and more cost effective in the long run especially when you see immediate amenities you need such as bukas, markets, kiosks, bars etc that are cheaper than those in choice areas.
#24 Expect Some Weird Questions
Sometimes there are questions these landlord’s an their agents can ask you , and trust me from experience they can be annoying. Just be prepared to answer all manner of questions from them.
Some of them can be superstitious for example if you are asked where you are from , Your answer can affect your chances of getting the apartment to be rented to you. Another likely question you should be careful in answering is, ”how many children do you have’’?
#25 Take Inventory
Photos , write ups etc are a good way of taking inventory of the apartment before you move in . This is important especially so that when you are leaving th house in the future , if there are any security deposits or caution fee paid, it can be refunded.
#26 Inspection Matters.
Ensure your home meets all the criteria needed. Inspection can be done as many times as possible till you are pleased and satisfied
#27 What is Included in the Package ?
Some properties for rent include utilities, services,, parking etc while some or most don’t in Lagos.Before signing that agreement document , Ask your landlord / agent about what is included in rent and how this can make changes to your lifestyle especially budget wise.
#28 Do Not Pay Till You Are Sure
Once you pay , it would be difficult for you to change your mind. So be completely sure. Never give the agents full amount till you confirm that the apartment is truly vacant and have not been paid for by another prospective tenant.
Also concerning financial security, It’s safer for you to remit the rent fee to the landlord’s bank account at least your teller serves as prove of payment.
#29 Why Did The previous occupants move out ?
Lastly ,If possible , find out why the previous tenants vacated the property . This can give you a hint on about the house history or even the environment and what to expect if you eventually choose this place.
This is just my Nigerian-mentality speaking, Ever heard of cursed , haunted or bewitched houses? , You might be wondering yes they do exist and yes in Nigeria.
Renting such an apartment can be disaster especially if you don’t know. But if you are one of them or stronger than them spiritually(lol) you can rent the property.
I have heard of a shop where there is a long history of business failures. Almost every business that has been opened in that particular shop ends up comatose.
Trust me you do not want to pay for what you have no idea about. That is why some people consult their spiritual heads (Pastor’s, Alfa’s, Native doctor’s ) before moving into an apartment. Do you know that some landlords also use their services to also check background of the prospective tenant?
They say prevention is better than cure.