The parochial and retrogressive patriarchal attitudes that are still prevalent in the Nigerian society are deeply repulsive as they put women at a disadvantaged position in life. In Nigeria, the thought propagated by patriarchy is that single women should not rent property. Hence, it is extremely difficult for single women to rent property in Nigeria.
Finding property to rent is a nightmare experience for single women in Nigeria. The belief is that a woman should live in her father’s or husband’s house. Such conservative views that are backward are making life difficult for single women who would often be perceived by society as promiscuous.
StearsBusiness showed the story of Jumoke Adegbite, who found it hard to find property to rent in 2011 upon getting a new job in Lagos. She said that for one to get space, marital status almost decided everything. The landlords were of the view that unmarried women bring around a lot of male friends, and that is deciphered as promiscuity. She was shut out because she was not married, only for her parents to later come and convince the landlords that their daughter was decent. For Adegbite, all of this was absurd and did not convey anything meaningful except the rotten state of a society that holds backward views.
Single women are not what landlords would love to have as their tenants. This stems from how the society is fashioned in Nigeria, clad with deep and long-held beliefs that women are inferior to men and as such men should police the activities of women. Women are expected to conform to certain moral standards, and failure to comply with that summons scorn and despicability on the woman. The woman is expected to move from her father’s house to her husband’s house, in what is widely viewed as a nicely executed plot to keep women under the tentacles of patriarchy.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the landlords I met did not want to rent to me because I am a single woman. Most landlords and agents would tell me, ‘Can you bring your boyfriend or your husband?’ In these kinds of apartments, we don’t like boys coming in. We just want decent people” Ogungbile, who is a 31-year old project administrator with the Ogun State Government remarked.
“In my office then we had a policy of not renting out properties to single women. To be considered they had to get a male reference or show up with a man,” said Shittu (not real name), a real estate associate in Lagos.
“On one occasion, a woman claimed she was married, but her husband was abroad, so she had to live alone. She rented a four bedroom duplex to her in Lekki Phase II,” he begins. “A few months later, during our general inspection, we found out that she had brought in multiple young women to live with her. The neighbours even complained that she had turned the place into a brothel.”
Another factor is that property owners and developers think that single women do not have money; that they solely depend either on their lover’s money or their father’s money and hence they would be unable to afford the rents. But when it really comes to who delays and defaults on payments, it’s men.
Society does not scrutinise men that much and everything goes easy for them, and even hands them a tacit license to philander.
But the issue is, why hold on to these old-fashioned views? The world has changed.
These views must be rooted out and society must afford equal chances for women, and in this particular case, conditions should be easy for single women to find places to rent in Nigeria.