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Flaws in Lagos homes scheme, Subscribers protest

 

Seven years after the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) was mooted to encourage home ownership of First-Time Buyer (FTB) to purchase decent and affordable homes through the provision of accessible mortgage finance, the scheme seems to be in limbo.

The tale of woes associated with scheme are dotted all around the metropolis in terms of abandoned projects, left unattended to since three and half years ago. They include Michael Otedola estate, Odoragun, Igando, Gbagada, Ibeju-Lekki, Sangotedo and Agbowa-Ketu. Despite all the draws and certificates presentation ceremonies held for winners of various housing units under the scheme, there has been an increase in the number of people asking for refunds.

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One of the subscribers, said that after emerging winner and satisfied all basic requirements, including paying the initial deposits, he was finding it difficult to meet other financial requirements. Another allottee, expressed dissatisfaction with the scheme on the ground that, the government has reneged on its promise to hand them keys to their apartments, despite satisfying all necessary requirements, including the payment of the mandatory 30 per cent asset deposit.

But Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who inherited the scheme had in an attempt to address some of these issues and ease the tension of the recession slashed the price.For instance, the flat two-bedroom flat, which was N7.2 million was reduced to N3.5 million, while the one bedroom was reduced to N2.3 million. Also, the room and parlor unit was also reduced to N1.5 million,He also broke down the payment to a yearly payment. Later, he broke it down to a monthly payment scheme to allow residents apply for the scheme specifically when rent-to-own scheme , which commenced December 9, 2017.

Yet with additional 1, 000 additional housing units injected into the pool of housing units earlier provided by the state government, the houses were yet to be fully subscribed, even with the introduction of raffle and other strategies.Subscribers are apprehensive that they are yet to be given keys to their homes. Some of them, who spoke to The Guardian cited infrastructure challenges as many of the apartments are not ready. According to them, some of the estates may appear ready but their insides still lack basic home amenities.

But the Lagos Commissioner of Housing, Gbolahan Lawal said the issue of infrastructure is being sorted out as the governor has been briefed on the matter.According to him, there was an agreement at the inception of the scheme, by the then governor, Babatunde Fashola , who agreed to build a road and when it was not done residents of the nearby estates like in Otedola took the state to court but the matter was resolved amicably out of court.

The commissioner assured prospective home-owners that they will celebrate the next Christmas in their new homes, saying allocation of the houses will start in October.On the Rent-to-Own Housing Policy, Lawal said the state government had shortlisted some would-be beneficiaries , while Lagos Mortgage Board was working on perfecting their documents.

Meanwhile, the State’s Building Control Agency in collaboration with the Physical Planning Permit Authority and the Ministry of Information and Strategy have issued 150 fresh notices to private developers in Oyingbo area, urging them to regularise their building approval permits. The exercise was a continuation of the programme started earlier in the year, which aimed to inform owners of converted buildings and those without planning approvals to apply for permits to make them legitimate and legal.

In the last six months about 6,000 building owners have obtained their permits and there are plans to capture seven thousands registered permits by the end of the year.Speaking to residents on the importance of voluntary compliance with the physical planning regulations in the state, the General Manager of LASPPPA, Osifuye Olufunmilayo said, “It is good for building owners to get legitimate building plan on one hand and to also ascertain the structural stability of their buildings.

“Through that, we will be able to advise them on what they need to do in compliance with the provisions of the law that every building in Lagos state must be covered with approved building plan and for government to have confidence that all buildings in the state are structurally fit. We are happy that in the past one year, we have recorded zero building collapse in the state and our plan is to totally eradicate building collapse”. He explained that after the sensitization, owners of the buildings are expected to visit the agency and effect compliance.

“We are sensitising them because we don’t want to jump on any sector or part of Lagos state without prior information/ benefits owners of buildings would derive from getting approvals and improve the values of those lands when they want to transfer the title to another person. Through the exercise also we believed that it would help government to build an updated database for development.

“We will give both new and old building owners certain window but if they failed to show up, the enforcement will begin. Since government is the guidance of the environment, if they failed to comply, the buildings could be sealed. Some of them don’t know that floods could also affect their buildings and so we intend to educate them on this and the need to guide against it”.

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On the dynamics of the city, he said areas that are hitherto residential have transformed to commercial adding that in respect of the situation, some of the physical planning laws have be changed to mixed-use corridors.“People with former approvals for residential who have changed to commercial must come and regularize for the mixed-use zoning in respect of residential or residential and commercial to fill in the gap on the zoning for that corridor. There will also be the need for owners to do non destructive test to determine the structural stability of the building and its ability to withstand additional floors if you are adding”.

The Public relations officer for LASBCA, Titi Ajirotutu said the regularisation exercise started from the Opebi/Allen areas of Lagos with stiff opposition from residents. However, she explained that the people have however realized the importance of the exercise as reflected in the level of cooperation given to the regulatory agencies.

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