Nigerian Lives: 5 People Share Their Worst House Hunting Experiences In Lagos

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In a place like Lagos, Nigeria where almost everything is stressful, finding that perfect house is no easy feat. You have to deal with difficult elements like scamming agents, terrible houses, troublesome, misogynistic and tribalistic landlords. For this episode of Nigerian lives, 5 people tell us their most frustrating house hunting experiences:

Gina, 29

My first experience was not bad, I probably just cried because I spent 10 days in a hotel in Nigeria. I had just moved back and the houses they kept showing me were rubbish; the apartments were unlivable. Fast forward to when I finally moved into the apartment and the security guard was absolutely sexist. One of them came to my apartment and asked if I was cooking rice. I said no and I started panicking because I thought something was burning in my neighbour’s apartment. Then I asked if he smelled anything, and he said no, he was just hungry and he thought I would be cooking since I was home. The same guy was super rude to other women in the building. We had a group chat and the guys were surprised at the comments. He told one woman he felt it was too late to be ordering food and told another that he would leave her friends outside the gate if her friends keep coming late. I faced tribalism and sexism on several occasions. I have had several experiences prior to being married where the landlords and agents said they are not willing to rent to single women specifically; claiming that single women were trouble. As a new wife, I went house hunting with my husband. We saw an apartment we really liked, made enquiries about the apartment and the agent said the landlord specifically wants Yoruba people.  There was another incident where my husband and I were asked why we had different surnames. We were asked to bring a marriage certificate for proof and we still didn’t get the apartment because they didn’t believe we were married.

Amaka, 21

In 2015, I went house hunting with my friend and my ex. When I went to meet the landlord, he asked questions about having male friends over, coming back late and having friends over. He also warned against using his house as a brothel, insinuating that I am a prostitute. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the house if my guy friends didn’t come with me. The landlord let me know that i only got the place because I came with my guy friends who vouched for me.

Jason, 26

Last year in November, I got this place, a flat in Ikoyi. I went through the agreement, paid and everything was fine. Two weeks after I moved in, I got an air conditioner and connected everything. I slept off and the next morning, the security guy came knocking at my door. He told me that it was 7 am and I had to put off my air conditioner. I was shocked. I wanted to go ham but I changed my mind because it occurred to me that someone must have sent him. I ignored him and left the air conditioner on. Not long after, the 83-year-old landlady called my phone, complaining about the air conditioner metre. I paid the service charge worth N300, 000. Shouldn’t that mean everything should be included in the service charge? She kept complaining so I ignored her. The next day, I refused to put off my air conditioner and that’s how she started acting like a madwoman. My line of work doesn’t require going out every day, so i stay home whenever I don’t need to be out. This didn’t work for her because other tenants had a 9-5 which meant they mostly turned on their ACs at night. We would fight all day because of the AC with her shouting and me ignoring her. One day, she reported me to the police and they came to knock on my door. I went to the station and explained it to them and they chuckled. I wrote a statement and left. The next day, she tried to stop me from going out, holding my shirt and physically assaulting me. I tried to remove her hand as gently as possible because of her age but that didn’t stop her from claiming that I tried to beat her and kill her. It got to the point where we are calling the police on each other so much that the police got tired. I saw a lot of things that made me ask for a refund and left. Thankfully, I got the full rent.

Esther, 25

Landlords in Lagos are crazy. They don’t care about you. They just want their money. First of all, you have to deal with the agents who are usually annoying. You tell them what you want and they go around showing you places that are not even close to what you want. For instance, I told them I want a mini flat and they showed me a single room self-contained. Unlike overseas, here, they won’t show you pictures because they want you to spend money. You have to pay the agent fee and transport fare when you are looking at houses. It is rare for a housing agent who shows pictures and if you find one who does, chances are you won’t like them. This year I decided to rent an apartment so I paid an agent who showed me terrible places for a ridiculous amount. I almost gave up until I found one. It was a new, incomplete building. I got in touch with the landlord, and we agreed on the price.  In Lagos, you have to pay a down payment even when the house is incomplete because you might go when it’s completed and it’s no longer available. People start paying for the apartments as soon as someone starts laying the foundation. This landlord promised the place would be ready the following month which ended up being a lie. When he finally completed the house, he tiled everywhere except the room. I asked why and he said that’s how it’s done because he has to leave things for the tenant to do. The whole thing was bizarre but I ended up moving in because I couldn’t find anything better.

Eme, 29

I have lived in four houses over the course of six years which means I have had to deal with annoying agents and landlords. As a woman, I have dealt with agents hitting on me while house hunting. This usually happens in empty houses which isn’t safe; one got in my face letting me know that he was into me. Trapped in an empty house, I had to play along and acted like i fancied him too. Thankfully, nothing happened but i learned from that so now I try to go with a male friend to avoid stories that touch. I once had a pervy landlord who touched my legs inappropriately. By this time, I had just moved in so I had to figure out a way to stay out of his way for the duration of my stay. On another occasion, i found a place i thought was perfect, only for it to have major mould and flooding issues. House hunting in Lagos is the worst.

*This article is based on real-life events. The names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.

Nigerian Lives is a Culture Custodian weekly series where we hear from Nigerians who share tidbits about their experiences. It goes up every Monday.

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