'Housing Shortage Results in Rent Increase'

The Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, Prof. Timothy Nubi, on Friday attributed the incessant rise in house rent in the country to inadequate availability of residential buildings.

Nubi told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that rent on housing would come down if developers could engage in mass production of houses to reduce the gap between demand and supply.

Nigeria, with its over 170 million population, currently faces a 17 million housing deficit, with the federal government putting in place measures to close the gap.

According to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Nigeria is in need of about 720,000 housing units per annum, while the annual aggregate production is about 100,000 housing units, leaving a huge gap.

The ministry, as part of efforts to close the gap, plans to build mass housing units in every state of the federation for public workers annually in the next three years, to enable them own houses.

Nubi urged developers to join the government and also start mass construction of houses to make them readily available at affordable rates.

“The simple truth is that scarcity results in price increase while abundance decreases price.

“Therefore, the solution to continuous increment in rent is mass production of houses. If large numbers of houses are built, the price of accommodation will reduce,” the don said.

He said that if the housing deficit was reduced, many more Nigerians would also be able to own houses.

“Today, the cheapest completed house one can get is at the rate of N5 million and above. However, how many Nigerians, particularly the low-income earners, can afford such amount?’’ the don queried.

He said that mass housing would not only result in bulk purchase of housing materials at discounted prices but would also create room for easy access to mortgage schemes.

“The benefit of mass production is not only low cost but also increased rate of turnover, which implies that developers will be able to recoup their investment within the shortest possible time.

“Mass housing is more economical; it is the only viable way to crash the high cost of accommodation in the country.

Nubi said that involvement of more housing developers in mass housing schemes depended largely on ability of the government to provide an enabling environment.

He urged government to put in place frameworks like establishments of credit facilities, provision of local building materials, and evolution of simpler form of housing designs to encourage developers.

“These frameworks are indicative of bright prospects for financing housing constructions which will rapidly expand the available resources for mass production of houses,” Nubi said.

The dean advocated the review of the Land Use Act of 1978, saying this would also encourage developers.