House Hunting: The Lagos Renter, the Landlord and his Agents

House hunting

Finding an apartment in Lagos is like making your way through the eye of the needle. Any renter who successfully passes through the obvious bottlenecks that come with renting an apartment in Lagos in one piece should be given a standing ovation.

When it comes to renting an apartment in Lagos, it becomes quite impossible to find a place that suits your brief without any hitches. There are several hurdles you have to surmount when prospecting for a decent place to lay your head. In fact there have been cases where renters had to pay for what they exactly don’t like because they were left with no other choice.

When it comes to house hunting, there’s the angle of the real estate agent who does the landlord’s dirty works and the landlord or maybe the caretaker who gives the final nod when the deal is sealed. A renter could forfeit an apartment he or she developed an interest in just for the mere fact that the landlord finds the renter’s face repulsive or feels threatened by the renter’s presence. It’s his house after all.

Some renters even bribe their way through to forgo the ‘sometimes’ intriguing interviews the property owners subject them to. Single ladies have been denied nice apartments basically on account of their marital status while some bachelors have had their requests turned down because they can’t boast of a stable source of income.

However this dilemma is not exclusive to the renters alone. A genuine real estate agent does go through some patchy road too in satisfying a renter who knows his onus. Most often than not, real estate agents have their work cut out because it happens that the prospective tenant has no love for the apartment in question.

Truth be told, Lagos renters would rather deal directly with a landlord; they would prefer to go on a house hunt alone rather than do it with a real estate agent because they feel they are not to be trusted. For some of them, the real estate agents are only interested in the registration fee that renters usually pay when they employ their services. After about 1-3 days of house hunting it becomes really difficult getting a real estate agent to go on a house hunt with you especially when he has other clients. His attitude towards you even gets worse if he has tried convincing you to rent apartments you did not fancy to no avail. Some can even suggest that you go ahead and build a house of your own if you are the type that finds a fault in every property they take you to for inspection, which seems like a good advice after all.

Despite these anomalies, these agents can’t all be the same right? In the course of my sojourn on earth I have met a couple of professional real estate agents who go all out to satisfy their clients no matter how long it takes that client to find a house that suits his or her expectations. It’s bad that some uncultured agents have tarnished the good work ethics of the professionals in the field; a case of a bad apple spoiling the entire barrel, but should we then throw away the baby with the bath water?

There is a reason why real estate agents are the middlemen between the renter and the landlord; hence we cannot continue to undermine their role because of the inappropriate actions of a few.

Hate them or like them their role remains sacrosanct to real estate transactions, albeit the question is; are they doing enough to reduce the plight of Lagos renters?

Renters who have an axe to grind with real estate agents must be cognizant of the fact that that the agent is only out to the bidding of a higher force – the owner of the property. They do all they can to get a property off the market sometimes at their own detriment. Even when an agent thinks a landlord’s price tag on a property is on the high side he still goes ahead to find a tenant for the property. They are the ones who face the backlash from some unruly tenants that come their way.

Ordinarily, real estate agents should serve as advisers to the landlords, but how many of these Lagos landlords do take advice from their agents? Whatever happens, the real estate agent’s only duty is to get the work done.

There are agents that have cajoled renters into renting a property even when they know the renter would face tough times in the apartment, but who are we to blame for such deceit; the gullible renter or the dishonest estate agent?

Whichever direction the pendulum swings, there is only one person that takes the blame for his or her own mistake and that is the person who makes the mistake.

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