When Babatunde Fashola signed the Lagos new Tenancy bill into Law on Wednesday (Yesterday), it occurred to me that the legislative arm of government is not only about sharing money, probing the executives or screening commissioners and ministers after all.
Members of this arm of government are elected as per constituencies and the idea is that each member represents a cut population from the state or country and so the legislative assembly either at the local, state or national government is supposed to be the true voice of the people to the government; getting the government to prioritise issues that the people yearn for.
What we have largely seen is the legislative houses becoming a tool for the executive; as prominent issues for discussions at their sittings are largely bills sent from the executive such as tenure elongation, ministerial screening rather than bills for the populace. The legislatures owes a duty to scout their constituencies – identify what members they represent clamour for – bring such issues to the house and pass bills that ensures the executives do these things. This is what separates democracy from militocracy.
So, kudos to the Lagos legislators. Tenancy has been a big Lagos problem and a bigger Nigerian problem. Say, I ask to rent a house and the landlord asks me to pay N18,000 monthly with a 3 year down payment – that is N18,000 x 36 months which is N648,000. Meanwhile, I am a fresh graduate who is fortunate enough to have just started a N125,000 a month job two months earlier – plus a car the company insists takes away N35,000 monthly from my pay over 5 years. Of course, I will take the car as a brand new LBB (Lagos Big Boy). So, how do I pay this rent demand? My landlord doesn’t care and should I improvise any means to pay as it seems every Lagos landlord has conspired to demand the same thing from me? But now, thanks to this new law, I am only obliged to pay 12 months maximum in advance and subsequently pay every 6 months; because the law says,
It shall be unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant rent in excess of six (6) months (one year in the case of a new tenant) in respect of any premises.
This is just the beginning of better things ahead as I hope rental payment will eventually become a monthly affair, since my salary only comes monthly. Now, time to go check some new place as my previous 3 years payment expires in 2 months.
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