149 Defective Buildings Identified In Lagos

The Lagos State government has identified 149 distressed and defective buildings and marked them for demolition.

Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, revealed this on Sunday after five houses were demolished on Lagos Island by the state government.

The commissioner said of the 149 buildings, 40 of them have been demolished.

Ogunleye stated that the demolition was done in order to avert the repeat of the collapse of the building in Ita Faji area of Lagos Island last Wednesday, that led to the death of 20 people. Many people were also injured in the incident.

The houses demolished on Sunday were 25, Elegbata Street, Apongbon; 199, Tokunbo Street; 27, Inabiri Street; 16, Egatin Street, and 45, John Street.

Ogunleye added that the state government would comb the whole state for structurally defective building, and advised landlords whose houses have been marked to either demolish them or risk forfeiting the houses to the government.

Speaking on how people secretly move into marked-for-demolition buildings, Ogunleye said: “In some instances, where the owners and occupiers were served with notices and evacuated, people secretly returned to re-occupy the buildings, despite the sealing off of the structures by the LASBCA.”

He warned that the government would invoke Section 74 of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law and move to take over any house or building that collapses due to the “negligence of owner or developer in the state”.

Source: Sahara Reporters

Finding Home: Affordable Housing Crisis Leads To More Homeless Students

Third-grader Naveah Taylor bounds out of Reid Park elementary school in a pink jacket and backpack. Her favorite subject is math.

“I learned about adding fractions,” she said. “You only can add the numerator but not the denominator.”

Naveah started school in Charlotte this year. Kindergarten was in Jacksonville, Florida. First and second grade were in Atlanta. Then her parents couldn’t care for her anymore, and she and her brother Dakari came to live with her grandmother in Charlotte. He’s adjusted to second grade here and his favorite subject is science.

“I like that we go and explore stuff,” he said referring to an experiment about the densities of liquids. “Like at school the other day, we did a rainbow jar.”

Dakari and Naveah are with their grandmother now. Alohma West brought the kids to live with her in the one-bedroom apartment in west Charlotte she already shared with her son’s family. With seven people and several air mattresses, it’s a tight fit.

“We are still there on top of each other,” West said. “But it’s still better than being outside on the street.”

West’s grandkids are considered homeless under a federal law called McKinney-Vento. The classification applies to students living in a motel, car or emergency shelter. It also applies to those living in someone else’s home because they lost theirs or can’t afford their own. This qualifies Dakari and Naveah for meals, academic support and transportation from wherever they are to their home school that year.

The Department of Education reports more than 29,000 kids in North Carolina were considered homeless in the 2016-2017 school year. About three-quarters of those are living with other families because it’s too expensive to live on their own.

According to Shantiqua Neely, it’s not necessarily because people don’t have jobs. She’s the executive director at A Child’s Place, the organization helps homeless CMS students and families. She said it’s because rent is too expensive.

“Over half of our parent and caregivers that we serve are employed,” Neely said. “Things like affordable housing and lack of access to livable wages, and other factors like inter-partner violence and histories of eviction, play a big role in contributing to what we are seeing as family homelessness.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has the largest population of homeless students in North Carolina. Last year the district has identified almost 4,600. That’s up from nearly 2,500 10 years ago.

Neely said she is paying close attention to Charlotte’s efforts to make affordable housing a priority. The city says there’s a shortage of about 24,000 affordable housing units. She said she’s excited to see big corporations pitching in.

“I’m happy that we are talking about it in Charlotte,” Neely said. “But I’m looking for the day where it starts to translates to the population that we are serving.”

The city just approved spending more than $2 million to renovate nearly 80 apartments in east Charlotte to and keep them affordable. A quarter of those units would fall in the budget of most of the families that are in Neely’s program. She said the average family she serves makes about $800 a month.

CMS found through Project LIFT, a public-private partnership focused on west side schools, that kids moved so much that it’s difficult to track their progress. 50 percent of kids transferred to other schools after one year in the program. Neely said that movement is mainly within west Charlotte schools.

“We are servicing a family at one school and then we are in a meeting talking about that family, but that family is now at another school,” Neely said. “They are going back and forth all because parents are trying to look for that stability.”

Federal law requires the district transport kids from wherever they live to their home school for the rest of the year — even if they move outside the district. McKinney-Vento specialist at CMS Sonia Jenkins said about half of the 3,800 homeless kids this year live outside of their school zone, some even moving to Rock Hill or Gastonia because it’s too expensive to stay in Mecklenburg. She said the district spends $2 million on their transportation.

West is searching for a more permanent place and wants her grandkids to have some stability after years of being on the streets and sometimes living in squalid conditions.

“They definitely need a stable environment coming from not being fed, to being abused, to living with rats,” West said. “I mean, I listen to stories now that they have been with me a while. They are opening up more and they are telling me how the rats used to sleep in bed with them and it breaks my heart.”

CMS found students considered homeless were more likely to be behind in reading skills and tend to miss school more often.

School buses are pulling up and kids file out into the parking lot of the Center of Hope Salvation Army shelter in time for dinner. Today it’s chili, cornbread and salad.

As Kimberly Washington gets her food, she tells me her 8th-grade son didn’t get to school that day.

“He actually missed it this morning,” she said. “[The school bus] was one minute early.”

Because Washington doesn’t have a car, her son stayed at the shelter. They have been living in the shelter for a little more than a month. Washington said she ended up here after bouncing around homes of her family and friends. It started when she left an abusive relationship.

For a time, she was renting a room in a house — it was expensive. Then, she lost a temp job.

Washington is about to start as a cashier at Chick-fil-A. She’s planning to start saving up so she and her son can move out of the shelter. But as she looks for places, she’s finding rent has gotten more expensive.

“The wages that are earned in Charlotte, the compensation matching the cost of living. It just simply doesn’t,” she said. “I don’t understand how even though market rates increase, how rates of pay don’t match that.”

Washington’s applied for housing assistance but like many others, has been on the waitlist for years. She said she’s not expecting to get a voucher anytime soon.

But Alohma West is proof that a voucher doesn’t make it easier to find a place. She’s been looking for a bigger place for her and the two grandkids with a voucher, which provides a little more than a $1,000 a month. She said she’s called more than 30 places and is on several waitlists.

“But the problem is everywhere you look, nobody wants to take the voucher,” West said. “I can’t just sit. I have to get out. I don’t have a car so I have to look for something on the bus line. It’s been rough.”

While dealing with all this stress, West is trying to keep life normal for her 8- and 9-year-old grandkids. They have a homework routine after school and on the weekends, she tries to take them to free activities.

Often Dakari, her grandson in second grade, said they end up doing stuff at the apartment.

“Because she do not have a car to take us anywhere,” he said. “So lately, she hasn’t had enough money to do stuff so we just do stuff at home.”

His sister Naveah added that she’s looking forward to finding another place to live that’s less crowded so she can take her Christmas present out of the box. She’s been waiting a few months to open the easy bake oven.

“We got to get a bigger space because there’s a baby in the house and he messes with completely everything,” she said.

West has until May to find a place with the voucher before it expires. She is searching for anywhere in the county so the children can stay in CMS schools.

Source: Wfae

March is traditionally a strong month for Australia’s housing market, but not in 2019

For what is traditionally a seasonally strong month for Australia’s housing market, March isn’t proving to be all that strong in 2019.

Clearance rates still remain well below the levels of a year ago while prices in Australia’s largest cities are continuing to fall at decent clip, according to latest data.

According to CoreLogic, Australia’s preliminary combined capital city clearance rate rose to 56.1% last week, up from the initial estimate of 52.2% reported seven days earlier.

The lift came despite more homes going under hammer, lifting to 1,894 from 1,196 in the prior week.

Of those auctions held, CoreLogic received results from 1,416, equating to a reporting rate of 74.8%. That was above the 73.4% level seen seven days earlier.

Of those results received, 797 homes sold prior to, during or after auction. 619 failed to sell, including 108 that never actually made it to market.

While the national clearance rate currently sits well above the record lows struck late last year, the 56.1% level still remains well short of the 66% level seen a year ago when a far larger 3,316 homes went under the hammer.

Across the individual capitals, Sydney, at 63.1%, recorded the highest preliminary clearance rate across the country, followed by Canberra at 55.4% and Melbourne at 53.7%.

While that was an improvement on the levels of a week earlier, all three cities still recorded a lower preliminary rate than the final rate registered in the same corresponding week a year ago.

Elsewhere, preliminary clearance rates also improved in Perth and Brisbane compared to a week earlier although Adelaide, at 54.8%, was marginally weaker than the 55.3% level recorded seven days earlier.

Given the national preliminary clearance rate and reporting rates, the final clearance rate for the week is likely to be revised down to the low 50% region when released by CoreLogic on Thursday.

In the prior week, the preliminary national estimate was revised down from 52.2% to a final reading of 47.8%.

Despite the improvement in clearance rates in early 2019, that has not helped to stabilise home prices which have continued to fall.

Based on settled sales received, daily data from CoreLogic showed prices in Sydney and Melbourne fell by 0.3% last week, outpacing declines of 0.2% in Brisbane and 0.1% in Adelaide. Perth prices were stable compared to a week earlier.

Those weekly declines extended the price falls in Sydney and Melbourne since the start of the month to 0.6% and 0.5% respectively. Prices have also fallen 0.2% in Brisbane and Adelaide since the end of February. Mirroring the weekly result, prices in Perth have been flat so far in March.

While prices in Sydney and Melbourne have now been falling for well over a year, the recent scale of declines in both cities is noteworthy given March is traditionally the seasonally strongest month for home prices in Australia.

Even with far fewer new properties being listed, prices are continuing to ease lower, reflecting the impact of tighter lending standards, uncertainty ahead of the federal election and expectations that prices will continue to fall in the period ahead.

The lift in auction clearance rates suggests that along with reduced volumes, price expectations among vendors may have also been adjusted lower, contributing to more properties clearing than what was the case late last year.

Source: Businessinsider

LSDPC, firm target middle-income earners for Ogudu project

In a renewed bid to cushion effect of housing shortage in Lagos, a new housing project is being considered at the Ogudu Government Reserved Area extension, Alapere, Lagos.

The project, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative is at the instance of the Lagos State Property Development Cooperation (LSDPC) and Direct Construction Nigeria Limited. The housing development called ‘The Avenue Estate’ hinges on the urban renewal drive of the Lagos state government and is situated in an expanse of land of about 17,000sqm at the Ogudu section of the Alapere/Oworosoki expressway.

It consist, 48 units of four bedroom semi detached duplex with one bedroom boys quarter and facilities which will include, five A-side football field, gymnasium, swimming pool, children play ground, 24 hours electricity, good drainage system, water treatment plant, central sewage system and other facilities.

Due to a reduction in the supply of luxurious and contemporary quality housing in the mainland as a result of increasing demand, which has led to many relocating to the Island to seek for desired homes, LSDPC in partnership with Direct Construction Limited is set to change the narrative.

The location is strategic and the most convenient connecting points between the mainland Lagos and the Island Lagos.

Specifically, the location offers the best of serene and secured environment while the designs and structures are tailored made as well as allow for a workable deliverable price as agreed between the subscribers and the developer.

Average unit of the housing will occupies about 174Sqm floor space of livable area, typical ground floor and first floor. Each semi-detached house has car park space for up to three to four cars.

According to sources, mortgage facilities would be made available through the Lagos Building Investment Company Plc (LBIC) for intending subscribers.An official of LSDPC, Olusola Martins said the project aimed at providing houses for residents who falls within the middle as well as those in the upper income class of the population.

He told The Guardian that subscribers would be introduced to mortgage facilities to enable them have access to finance and purchase their units.

He said, “The target buyers are the middle classes; we are also looking at the upper middle class as well. The project is embarked on, to provide more houses for Lagosians.

We have arrangement with mortgage houses that would also provide mortgage for buyers.

“When people come, we introduce them to mortgage houses that can give them mortgage so that they won’t need to bring out the whole money from their pocket”.

Price for unit is offered at an introductory price of N65, 000,000 for outright sale and a twelve months installment payment plan. The delivery period for the project is 12months.

Source: Guardian

Iceland’s house prices rises decelerating rapidly

Iceland’s housing market is now cooling, amidst slowing economy. Nationwide house prices rose by just 3.01% during 2018, a sharp slowdown from a y-o-y growth of 12.89% in the previous year. In fact in a quarterly basis, house prices actually dropped 0.29% in Q4 2018.

Iceland saw a housing boom from 2002 to 2007, with house prices surging by more than 73%. However house prices plunged by 32.5% from early-2008 to 2010, due to Iceland’s extreme exposure to the global crisis. The housing market was quiet during the next three years, with house prices rising a meagre 5%. Iceland then saw strong house price rises of 5.22% in 2014, 6.89% in 2015, 12.55% in 2016 and 12.89% during 2017, attributed to strong demand coupled with limited housing supply, especially in the capital city of Reykjavik.

Analysis: Housing boom is fuelled by strong tourism

The continued increase in property demand in Iceland is fuelled by booming tourism. In 2018, foreign visitor arrivals to Iceland through the Keflavik Airport rose by 5.5% to more than 2.3 million people from a year earlier, according to Icelandic Tourism Board. Most tourists come from the United States (30%), the United Kingdom (12.9%), Germany (6%), Canada (4.3%), France (4.2%), Poland (3.9%) and China (3.9%).

Rents, rental yields: no reliable yields data

Recent news:  Iceland’s economy was estimated to have expanded by about 3.8% in 2018, a slowdown from expansions of 4% in 2017, 7.2% in 2016 and 4.1% in 2015, as the economy approaches full capacity. Economic growth is projected to slow further to 1.7% this year, the slowest pace since 2012, according to Statistics Iceland.

Source: Global Property Guide

Property developers advised to abide by FCT Laws

The coordinator, Abuja Municipal Management Council (AMMC), Umar Shuaibu, has said there are basic laws that property developers in the Federal Capital Territory should know in order not to fall foul of the Department of Development Control.

Speaking in an interview with Newsmen, Shuaibu said developers need to know whether their properties are residential or commercial and whether it is low, medium or high density development.

Shuaibu, a town planner, said all the categories have their building requirements.

“For low density you are supposed to put only two families; medium density four to six families; while high density houses about eight families.

“And for low density you cannot go more than two floors; medium density two to three floors: while high density is four floors. Commercial properties have their own criteria; we have neighborhood centres and city centre development, all have categories like the height you can attain and percentage area coverage.”

He said developers who need to know more about these have to come to the FCT Development Control Department to obtain the development manual of the city which will guide them on the do’s and don’ts.

Source: Daily Trust

Legal knots buyers can’t ignore when buying properties

Whether for personal or commercial investment purposes, there are legal issues buyers must give adequate considerations to enable a seamless acquisition and avoid bundles of litigation.

Checks by BusinessDay revealed that most Nigerians do not take into consideration some legal requirements on a property before purchasing, hanging their fate on the neck of agents.

The trust on the property realtor to carry out all due diligence on a property, sometimes as a means of reducing cost, make people fall prey to dubious and fraudulent property dealers.

 Analysts polled by BusinessDay reeled out the step-by-step legal requirements that should be ascertained by a potential property owner before making payments for a property.

Yemi Opemuti, chief executive officer at BAM & GAD Solicitors, a commercial, corporate and business law firm, explained to BusinessDay that initial considerations must include all title documents such as a purchase receipt, survey, title documents, that is, certificate of occupancy or approved building plan of the owner in the case of a landed property with an existing building.

“Ask for survey, go and chart the survey at surveyor general’s office to determine whether the land falls under government acquisition,” he advised.

This is imperative as many developed areas in Lagos fall under acquisition without buyers knowing.

“A property might be on Adeyemi Street in Lekki Phase 1, but unscrupulous sellers can present you the survey of a property on another street where the land is free from acquisition,” Opemuti explained further.

Breaking down the due diligence requirements, he said that since the certificate of occupancy is issued only once by a state governor, buying a property with an existing C-of-O will require application for governor’s consent. The consent acknowledges the transfer of ownership to the new buyer.

Corroborating him, Florence Alao, a real estate legal adviser, said a buyer must first ascertain if the property has been registered.

 “That is if it has a titled document in the name of whoever you are buying from, not from a roadside agent (Omoniles) who issued the person a land purchase receipt and also the registration of the property  should not be ongoing as at the time of the purchase,” Alao told BusinessDay.

Secondly, a legal research has to be conducted to ensure the property is not in combat or pledged for a credit facility because, in that case, the bank will register their interest on the title, Alao explained.

But legal issues vary from place to place and case to case.

In Lagos State, for instance, there are federal lands in some parts of Ikoyi, Festac Town and Abeokuta Expressway and likewise other locations. In these locations, buyers have to apply to the federal ministry of works for either C-of-O or consent which will be signed by the minister of Power, Works and Housing on behalf of the federal government before acquisition happens.

There are also areas in Lagos where excision—land acquired by the state government but later released to the customary or native land owner – is necessary.

“This is common within the Lekki area down to Epe. The excision is covered by gazette including the title of the customary owners, Opemuti noted.

“In that situation, a buyer needs to ask for the excision.”

Based on that, the buyer can make enquiry at the land registry as regards whether the excision given is genuinely issued by the Lagos state government to avert fraud.

However, there are also other issues buyers must be sensitive to.

If a property is to be sold by a company, a minimum of two directors must sign the Deed of Assignment, that is, the contract between the buyer and the seller.

Opemuti advised that soliciting lawyers in such case could conduct a search on the company to determine whether the signatories are current directors of the company. If not, it may result into a bad sale.

In the event of purchasing a property tagged Mr and Mrs, the husband and the wife must also sign.

Where  the owner is late, a buyer needs to seek granted probate will or ask for letter of administration in the event that the owner died intestate.

Granted probate will is the will by the former owner registered with the court while ‘letter of administration’ is for someone that died without a will.

Either the wife of the deceased or the children or family member could be appointed as the administrator of a property. If not, a buyer should decline until that is done in the court.

In the case of a family land, buyers must seek principal members of the family or accredited members capable of being signatories. If a party is selling on behalf of the other, a buyer must seek the registered power of attorney to sell.

The process of buying land in Nigeria could be challenging and poses a great risk without being properly guided.

Explaining his horrible experience to BusinessDay resulting from a property he acquired around Fadeyi in the Lagos, a buyer, who did not want to disclose his name, said “till today the property I bought through the help of an agent my brother recommended to me is still in court.”

He explained that after “I bought the four flat apartment with all necessary documents given to me, another man came to the house six months later and had same documents as the ones that were presented to me claiming ownership of the property.”

He admitted that he did not carry out any form of legal investigation as he was told that the agents knew how to go about getting everything and considering “my brother recommended him, I didn’t have any reason to waste money, but now I regret not doing all that.”

Responding to why most people do not like to involve a legal professionals when acquiring a property, Yemi Stephens of Estate Links said people do not recognize the place of a professional in a real estate transaction because they want to save cost.

“People don’t like paying professional fees and it is penny wise pound foolish,” Stephens said. He explained that even being a professional in the real estate industry does not stop him from consulting a Lawyer to help with his paper work when he wants to acquire a property.

“I can conduct due diligence search on a property but still what the trained eyes of a lawyer will see I might not be able to see. The case is the same for an engineer or a lawyer who is asked to come and do valuation of a property; they might not be able to see what I will get out from a property,” he noted.

On other areas where the expertise of a legal professional is required during the acquisition of property is confirming the originality of the property documents.

“There is also need to do verification to know if it is the original title you are holding, because sometimes title documents are cloned and this can be verified with the land registrar because they usually keep an original copy of a property document they issue,” Alao cited.

BusinessDay checks have shown that getting registration for land and real estate properties is one of the many issues that drags Nigeria’s property market which  is deficient by more than 17 million units.

“The land registry process, as I was told you, takes two weeks, but in the last two months I have been having an issue, and I have been advised by friends who have had similar issues to get a solicitor to help push on it,” a developer in Lagos told BusinessDay on condition of anonymity.

Source: Okafor Endurance

Purchasing Property in Turkey With Cryptocurrency Now Possible With Antalya Homes

Despite the loss in the value of many digital currencies and particularly Bitcoin in the past year, data from Statista indicates that the number of cryptocurrency wallet owners has increased 32% and reached 31 million by the end of 2018. Widely used in many industries including automotive, travel and informatics, cryptocurrency has also become widespread in the real estate sector.

Leading companies in the world such as Microsoft, Virgin Atlantic and Shopify now allow users to make payments in cryptocurrencies for their products and services. The real estate sector has also experienced an increase in the use of digital currencies and it is now possible to buy houses with cryptocurrency in Turkey, a home for many foreign investors.

With a total market value of 140 billion dollars, cryptocurrency is actively used in travel, food, information technologies, automotive as well as real estate sectors. As one of the most attractive European countries for housing investment where 40 thousand properties have been sold to foreigners in 2018, Turkey uses not only Bitcoin (BTC) but also Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Litecoin (LTC), Tether (USDT) and Stellar (XLM) for house sale transactions. Antalya Homes, the leading international real estate agency, which has helped thousands of foreigners obtain a home in Turkey to date, adopted an innovative approach selling nine houses in 2018 using Bitcoin (BTC).

Purchasing property with cryptocurrency offers more advantages

Antalya Homes is one of the organizations in the sector that accepts cryptocurrencies. Stating that they have completed sales of 9 real estates in 2018 using Bitcoin (BTC), Bayram Tekce, Chairman of Antalya Homes said, Payment with cryptocurrency enables a more reliable and faster transaction performance such as money transfer between bank accounts without any exchange loss. By making investments particularly in countries like Turkey, where housing is becoming increasingly valuable, investors can shift their investment to a less risky and safer area, and multiply their savings. We created a special section named “Pay with Bitcoin” on the Antalya Homes website for all questions related to purchasing houses with cryptocurrency. For those who intend to purchase a home with cryptocurrency, Antalya Homes offers the opportunity to own a house in Turkey starting from 30 thousand Euros (9 BTC).

Source: Global Banking and Finance

6 of the biggest landlord headaches and what to do about them

Rental properties can provide a healthy income stream, but they can equally provide huge headaches for landlords.

Here are six of the main problems faced by landlords:

1. Finding the right tenants. Check a renter’s references and details. Make sure whoever lives in your property is suitable for the environment – a big crowd of students will not suit a quiet residential area; small children can be a concern if there’s a pool or other potentially dangerous spaces; an older couple might not cope with a noisy building; someone might require secure off-street parking when you have none to offer. Pets are a common cause of problems – only allow them if you specifically consent to them.

2. Sorting out the contract. The contract needs to be legally correct but also clear in its wording and covering every potential issue. Note that it’s important to detail what is not covered (e.g. security, Wi-Fi, gardening services) to avoid any conflict or confusion.

Specify very clearly the number of people letting the property and exclude anyone else staying for anything beyond a specified number of nights without your approval. Parking and pets must be addressed.

3. Ensuring payment. If there are multiple tenants, preferably have one source of payment which simplifies both your monitoring and debt collection. A deposit (usually equivalent to one month’s rental) should be paid before keys are handed over.

Move quickly and decisively if payments are not made. The consequences of defaulting should be clear in the contract and do not hesitate to enforce those conditions.

4. Regulating tenant behaviour. If you have got the right tenants in the first place, you should not have significant problems. However, it’s important that you have relationships with the neighbours – give them your number and have theirs available – to enable you to troubleshoot issues. Encourage the tenants to introduce themselves to their neighbours and to be conscious of their environment.

There should be clear clauses in the contract regarding noise, parties and anti-social behaviour.

5. Constant maintenance issues. Have a readily accessible list for emergencies – plumber, electrician, roofer, security service, locksmith, cleaner, police. If something is wrong, move quickly to fix the problem and be prepared to refund rental money if the issue is substantial.

If you cannot deliver the maintenance service yourself, then employ a third party to do it for you.

6. A clean exit. Have a good inventory in place at the start and a signed agreement about the state of the premises. Inspect carefully before the departing tenants leave, and only hand back the deposit when you are satisfied that everything is in order and you have deducted any repair costs. Note that swimming pools can be expensive to restore to working order if they have been neglected.

Make sure you collect all the key sets and that the tenants have disposed of unwanted furniture and rubbish – it’s not your job to remove or sell their stuff.

Source: bizcommunity

How land speculators swindle Abuja residents

Land in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), is not only the choicest assets in the country, it is the costliest and most contested by the most powerful and most influential members of society.

While it is highly contestable, it is equally fraught with swindlers and scammers who scamper restlessly in search of who to defraud.

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Oftentimes, residents fall prey to these illegal activities and they are fleeced of their money. Although, the tricksters do not rob with dangerous weapons, most victims have died because of their activities. In view of the preponderance of land scammers in FCT, as property lawyers are feeding fat from the numerous cases in court.

According to a property lawyer and the National Co-ordinator of Peoples Rights and Justice—a human rights organisation, Mr Victor Giwa, before any buyer embarks on any land business, the first thing is to get experts. The first expert, he said, is a good lawyer, a property lawyer; the second expert is a surveyor and the third step is to take the document to the relevant agency that issued the document.

“You need to be careful. You need to be very careful. If anybody wants to buy land or any property in Abuja, the first thing is to get experts. The first expert you need is a good lawyer, a property lawyer. Not any lawyer. Some people run into problem because of what was involved in their property transaction. You should ask the lawyer if he has experience in property land transaction—-land business. You must also get some other experts like the land surveyor. But if you get a lawyer he will help you to put all these together. Then you ask for the title. The lawyer will conduct what we call ‘search’ with the necessary agency. The lawyer will tell you the way and manner you should go into the purchase of the sales of the property. It is very key that you involve an experienced and professional lawyer when you are going to enter into any land or property transaction” he said, citing cases of deaths as a result of land scammers.

“So, we have seen a lot of issues. I have seen a lot of families frustrated because of land transaction. He (victim) went to buy an AMAC land, sold to it to a person. When the person went to AMAC he discovered that the title he had was fake. As I speak to you now the family is scattered. These are the effects of fraudulent transactions as regards property. That is why we have concentrated so much on property. So, in a nutshell we have had more than 18 cases of fraudulent transactions” he disclosed.

Giwa told the story of a retiree who invested all his money in a property but discovered later that the property belonged to a catholic church. He collapsed, he said, and died before his case could commence in the court.

“A man retired some years ago. He was paid his pension allowance and all of that. He saw a good property at Garki and bought it not knowing that it belonged to a catholic church. The man was disappointed because of lack of due diligence on the land before he bought” he said.

Disclosing why he went into the business of helping those that have been defrauded of their land, he said: “Our organisation (a Non-Governmental rganisation) started with property issues because everybody who lives in Abuja is either a landlord or a tenant. And everybody lives on a property. So, it is very important that you know, especially, property in Abuja, what exactly is going on and how you are going to react on your property. So, we discovered that we are getting a lot of complaints from two major areas. One, on property and two, on transactions. So, 70 per cent of the complaints we are getting even from the courts, are from property. So, we felt that there was a need for us to concentrate on issues of property. And we also discovered that a lot of the residents of FCT are victims of frauds regarding property. Either fraud in the sense that you are buying the property or you are buying a fraudulent title or you are being defrauded as the seller. So, we started now as an NGO to concentrate on fraud in property in FCT. So, about 90 per cent of the cases so far that have been reported to the Commissioner of Police. We work with Commissioner of Police. We work with Department of State Security (DSS) and almost all the security organizations” he submitted.

A victim of land scammers, Mr Adenrenle Olubusi who bought a parcel of land from AMAC at Guzape in Abuja, said that early this year when he went to inspect the land with a view to developing it, he discovered that another man was already clearing his land. When he went to AMAC, he was told that it was a case of double allocation, which means, one of the owners should be reallocated. But the two owners did not want to give up to the another.

“When I bought my land in 2013, I conducted every due diligence and discovered it was real. But early this year when I went to develop it I saw some people clearing it. So, I contacted my lawyer who put a ‘caveat emptor’ notice on the land and invited the supposed owner for explanation” he said.

A man, Mr Okofor Afonjo whose land is also at Lokogoma lamented that after buying his land he went for study leave abroad. When he came back, he discovered that a gigantic mansion has been erected on his land.

“I bought three plots of land at Lokogoma in 2010. The title of the document was certified real by the appropriate authorities before I proceeded on leave. But after my study leave I discovered that a man is now operating a school on the land” the matter is now in court” he said.

By Isaac Anumihe

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