Finding a new apartment in Nigeria can often be a very frustrating experience. With high demand in cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, you need to be clued up to get your dream home.
- It requires a lot of work and time
The first thing you should know before you decide to look for your own apartment is that it takes a lot of work. While moving into Lagos can be infuriating – who would want to go through dozens of “castings”? The legal affairs are fairly simple: you move in on a pre-existing contract, hand over a deposit, and normally you can trust that Nigerians already in the flat understand the ropes.
When you are looking to rent your own place, You need to understand the rental market, knowing what documents you need, and being able to make a good impression on a property manager.
“The more time you can spend hunting down a flat, the better”.
- Always look for new offers
The housing market in cities like Ikeja is incredibly competitive – do not be surprised to see a queue of 30 or more people waiting outside the door at an open viewing.
“Particularly in the big cities and university towns, there is a shortage of thousands of apartments”.
“The consequence is that rents – particularly those that come with the signing of new contracts – have been rising for years”.
In this type of environment, speed matters. The property manager often starts selecting possible tenants from the moment that an offer goes online. Being one of the first to send in a request for a viewing could well make a difference, as their mailboxes are likely to fill up with requests in no time.
- Get your paperwork ready beforehand
First impressions really count. If you’ve been offered an invite to a viewing, the property manager clearly believes you are potential tenant material – but you are likely to be one of a dozen or so candidates they have chosen to see the property.
- Check up on the history of the property manager
In Nigeria you generally hardly deal with the landlord directly but with the Property manager (Agent), which looks after a portfolio of properties for the landlords.
Some of these are better than others. It is always worth doing a bit of internet research to check if there have been legal cases against the property manager you are dealing with.
“It’s hard to tell just how trustworthy a Property manager is from a conversation”. But he points out that good ones will always have a deeper understanding of the area around the property. They will know what shops are in the area, and where the nearest schools and kindergartens are.
- Try calling instead of sending emails or filling out forms online
When dealing with nationwide housing associations, try calling in order to get in touch with someone directly.
As realtors at these companies likely have to sift through numerous emails and online forms daily, if you happen to reach them directly on the telephone, your chances of nabbing a flat could be greater.
This is because, whereas your request for a viewing via email or online may be overlooked, speaking with someone personally over the phone might enable you to set up a viewing much sooner.
- Always ask these questions at a viewing
Firstly you should find out if the apartment is owned by a private individual or a property company, he says, explaining that you are more likely to have your contract cancelled by a private owner, who might decide to make personal use of the apartment.
The next question should be whether there are plans to modernize the building, which would lead to the landlord asking for a higher rent.
Thirdly you should ask for information on how muchelectricity and water costs have been in the past to get a sense for what you are likely to pay
Notes that Property managers will always try and show you the good side of a house at a viewing. He recommends viewing it at least twice, and at different times of day.
- Expect to incur some additional costs
When you rent an apartment in Nigeria, often that is really all you get – the apartment itself. Extras like the entire kitchen, light fixtures, bathroom accouterments and other taken-as-given items are often not included in the rent, and you should be prepared to foot the bill for these yourself.
As these extra costs can rank in the thousands, when looking to rent it’s a good idea to ask the Property manager before signing on the dotted line about what is included.
The rental contract is also a good source to see what belongs to the apartment and what may be leaving with the previous tenant.