12 Things to consider before renting an apartment, house in Nigeria & Lagos, What to look out for when renting an apartment, New apartment checklist in Nigeria.
What are the things to consider before renting an apartment or house in Nigeria?
Two days ago, I spoke to a family friend who is about moving to a new apartment within Lagos. Before he paid the rent, I asked a few questions to be sure that he had taken note of every necessary precaution.
This is necessary because stories abound of prospective tenants falling into the hands of the dubious estate agents and unscrupulous landlords in Lagos as their hard-earned money is taken with no apartment given to them.
Aside that, people also rent apartments that they later regret paying for. In this piece, I intend to show you factors to consider before paying for an apartment, particularly in Lagos. They are also applicable to other places too.
Deciding where to reside is a critical decision. You should carefully take this step so that you don’t start another search immediately after settling into a new place. Consider the factors below.
12 Things to consider before renting an apartment, house in Nigeria & Lagos
1. TRUSTED AGENTS
You will most probably need an agent to secure an apartment because they have an information you do not have. They know where there are vacancies but you don’t. Hence, you will need them.
However, do ensure you choose to work with honest ones. When you meet them, watch their demeanor. There are well-known estate firms too.
Those ones may not pose any serious risk to work with but when dealing the ones within the streets, you want to be sure you are working with the right person.
You can ask your friends or trusted church members to recommend a known estate agent to you if you are not going for real estate companies which usually only manage high-value property.
Except maybe your life is in a serious risk, you should take your time to search for a good apartment. This is because there is probably always one better apartment than the last one you inspected.
If you don’t like a place, then you don’t like. Take your time to search further because you probably will get something better. Do note that where you will live for a considerable long time is not a place you should start to manage from Day 1.
3. AFFORDABILITY OF RENT
The next big thing you should consider is the rent. This is the amount you will pay yearly for occupying the building. Now, consider this carefully and be sure it is an amount you can conveniently pay yearly.
I am not talking about your initial rent; you can save up to pay that. The yearly renewal of rent is important and you should be sure you can afford it. If you cannot, don’t rent the property by faith. I am sure no Lagos landlord receives faith as rent.
4. OTHER COSTS
Before you pay the rent, be clear on the other costs associated with taking up the flat. Ask to be told what other costs you must pay to have the apartment. Don’t be caught unawares by security cost, cleaning cost, etc. They may be small but know them.
5. ROAD NETWORK/ACCESSIBILITY/COST OF COMMUTING
There was a year I was searching for an apartment. I was taken to one flat and it was just the right taste for anybody but the road to the place was terrible.
Even if the apartment is good for its price, you should strongly consider the road network in the community and adjoining roads leading to the place. Don’t overlook this as it counts a lot.
Imagine if there were rain, how accessible or pliable will the road be? Even if you don’t have a car now, imagine that you have one. Will you find driving on that road convenient?
If the place is not accessible, be sure you can overlook that before paying to be a tenant there. Remember you will be tired when returning from work. The road should not worsen your experience.
In addition, consider the distance between the place and your office. Consider your cost of transportation – be it through public or private means. You can get a cheap accommodation in a remote settlement but if it is terribly far from your office, the cost and stress of commuting to and fro work may be a killing factor to weigh well.
I once lived in a house where two other tenants had their different tanks. Ask me why? The so-called borehole water in the house was so bad that tenants had to buy their own tanks and they buy their water for use till date.
If the water is not good for drinking and cooking (even if you won’t be drinking it), please run for your life. Don’t take it. In the house I mentioned earlier, I got there shortly after a new borehole was dug. I assumed the water would be potable but I was wrong.
Check the water well. Be sure it is good for consumption and it is not as brown as tea that it will turn your white shirt to brown soon.
7. POWER SUPPLY/BILLING
The power situation in Nigeria is agreeably poor but there are some places residents still enjoy the supply to a manageable level. If you cannot stuck your refrigerator with perishables because the power supply in that area is terrible, don’t rent a house there. How will you find out power is good or bad there?
Ask people on the street but do not do this when the agent is there. In fact, ask traders whose businesses depend on everyday power supply. They will tell you the truth unlike the agent who may tell you what may be false.
Then be smart. If you see generators in every corner and they are looking heavily used, my friend, watch it. Don’t pay for a house situated where the tenants have taken PHCN to court. This is Nigeria. You may not see a flash in your bulb for a year.
In addition to this, if you can avoid a house with analogue metering system or estimated billing, friend, please do. Estimated billing can leave you angry all day. Consider a place with prepaid metering system instead.
Well, I think I will prioritise this more because my apartment was once invaded and my phone stolen. Be sure you are paying for an apartment with some level of security. This is not Europe where houses have no fence. At least, make sure the apartment is gated.
9. DRAINAGE AND FLOODING
Open your eyes well and look at the drainage system in the streets leading to the place. Does it look like there will be flooding if it rains heavily or even just lightly? Flooding is a major challenge in Lagos and other cities in Nigeria. Watch out for this.
This is as important as oxygen. Are the surrounding houses so contiguous that you can touch the next one right from your bedroom? I once lived in a house in Lagos Island where I could turn the generator in the next house right from our verandah. You know how residential houses in Lagos Island are? Be sure that ventilation is not hindered in the place you want to pay for.
11. NOISE AND AIR POLLUTION
This is an important factor if you don’t want to spend your nights cursing the day you paid for the apartment. It is advised you distant yourself from any house that is close to any other building where noise is constantly generated. You know what can generate noise so watch out for them. If you sight them around, you should consider whether you can cope with the noise. Noise is a stress causal agent so you want to be sure you can cope.
12. DO YOUR TRADE-OFF ANALYSIS WELL
Well, you may not be able to have all the above and more in a single pack. So, you may have to do some trade-offs except you are paying ‘gbem’ for a very good place in a highbrow area. All the same, do the trade-off analysis well and whichever inconvenience you choose to live with should be the lesser inconvenience.
This article on Things to consider before renting an apartment is the intellectual property of Anani Sunday and was first published in Head start Africa Facebook Page