Once upon a time in Lagos, I transferred rent money for a new apartment before collecting the keys. So, payment done, time to collect keys, only to realise: no keys, no agent. Yes, feel free to roll your eyes but I’m not the only ‘Lagosian’ who has been scammed for being so naive. #Sigh.
Long story short I have since learned to pick up the house keys while handing over a cheque to the Landlord. Now rent aside, there are many other experiences from my house hunting days that have helped me ‘shine my eyes’. So, based on my personal experience here are some things I believe you should look out for and avoid when house hunting in Lagos.
Look for a place during the rainy season
If you’ve lived in Lagos long enough to experience rainy season you will understand why searching for a house that time is a great idea. Some roads and estates look picture perfect and habitable. Until the rains start, then you discover that the roads are impassable. This is something I believe anyone would like to know before they move in. You don’t want to wake up to find yourself in the middle of a lake. If you drive a high car that can navigate ‘lakes’ or you don’t mind the occasional deep sea diving in your clothes, by all means, go ahead. But it’s much better you know what you’re getting into beforehand.
Check the walls of the house for water marks
This is an extension of the point above. During the dry season, a house or apartment on the ground floor may look fine to live in but not so much when your furniture is floating around. So I would advise you to look at the bottom of the walls for water marks, if they haven’t painted over them already. If they have though, have a look at the house after heavy rainfall; the road and the compound will most likely be flooded enough for you to know this is a house you should avoid.
Check if there is clean running water
Don’t always assume that this is taken care of, especially on the island. In my house hunting days, I have come across many houses with dirty running water. In some cases they expect you to buy water to drink and cook with or expect you to pay for water treatment separately. If you don’t check and ask, many Lagos landlords won’t tell you. Always aim to understand what provisions will be made, if any, for clean water, if you run into this challenge.
Electricity: pre-paid or post-paid?
Pre-paid electricity meters are the ones where you buy tokens for electricity and you credit your meter with the token. With these meters, you have more control over your spend on electricity. Unlike the post-paid meters where Nepa sends you an estimated bill regularly. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem. Except for the fact that there’s a possibility of paying more than is required because of wrong estimates. If you choose a place with a post-paid meter, it’s important to find out if the previous tenant has paid all electricity bills. This way, you won’t end up with a huge electricity bill after you’ve paid your rent. Your landlord will most likely not give you the money back or deduct it from your rent
It’s important to ask as many questions as possible, even if the questions seem dumb. Don’t make assumptions on anything. Make sure you’re aware of all the costs involved. And who will be paying for what if anything gets damaged while in use. And make sure all verbal agreements are in the written agreement as well.
Do you have any other tips for house hunting in Lagos? Share in the comments below 🙂