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Land Use Act: Experts seek review over abuse by state govts

Environmental experts have called for the review of the Land Use Act, saying it has been abused by state governments.

The experts submitted that current Land Use Act, which came into effect in 1978, has outlived its usefulness as it serves the interest of few privileged persons in government at the detriment of communities and the masses.

They said this on Friday in Calabar, Cross River State at the end of a two-day public lecture with the theme: ‘Policy intersection: Strengthening bottom-up accountability amidst land grabs in Nigeria.’

The lecture was organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Earth Nigeria and facilitated by Dr Maurice Olory of the Community Forest Watch, Centre for Educational Services, University of Calabar.

According to Olory, who spoke on: ‘The Cross River experience- the need for a modern Land Use Act’, the Act has become oppressive as top government officials, especially governors, have resorted to using it for their personal gains.

He said, “The Act is oppressive and it gives too much power to governments, especially the governors who take land in the name of overriding public interest and divert it for their personal interest.

“There is, therefore, the need for the national framework and policy on land use and the need for a modern Land Use Act for the country.”

Presenting a paper on the theme of the lecture, the Head of Department, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Calabar, Dr Raphael Offiong, said over the years, many communities in Cross River State have lost their lands needlessly to the government.

“Over the years, with this Land Use Act, many individuals and communities in Cross River State such as Ekong Anaku, Mbarakom, Njaghasang among others have lost their land to government and multinationals without due consultation.

“The Land Use Act has led to indiscriminate entry into contiguous community land without due consultation, lack of restriction on land intake and lack of farm expansion leading to unemployment as the government acquires land for overriding public interest but transfer same without consulting the people.

“The Land Use Act has not done any good for the locals, there is a great extent of land grabbing, leading to the displacement of the rural inhabitants.

“The continuous land grabbing may lead to conflicts between multinationals and the rural communities in Cross River if urgent action is not taken to arrest the situation,” he said.

Originally published in The Punch

World Bank, others throw up competition for architects in low-cost housing

Following increase in natural disasters that have ravaged communities around the globe, a new search for architectural designs that will withstand such catastrophe has begun in earnest.
The World Bank, UN-Habitat, Build Academy, Airbnb, and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery are promoting the competition that majorly targets architects around the world to develop designs for resilient, modular and affordable homes that cost under $10,000 and easy to build.

Since 1990, natural disasters have affected on average 217 million people every single year. Hundreds of floods, storms, heat waves and droughts have left about 606,000 people dead and 4.1 billion injured or homeless around the world since 1995. And it is often the poorest that suffer the most from these shocks.

With 50 per cent of the building stock required by 2050 yet to be built, cities have an opportunity to adopt better housing designs and improve the quality of construction and planning to make them more resilient.

Senior officials of UN-Habitat believe that architects and engineers can design resilient and sustainable houses that both reduce the risk of damage and enable rapid reconstruction following a disaster.

Under the competition, the units target victims of natural disasters and people living in vulnerable areas to minimize the negative impact of natural disasters, save lives and help communities recover faster.

This initiative challenges architects, engineers, designers and aid workers to reposition housing at the centre of development agendas and promote the design of resilient, modular, low-cost and sustainable homes that reduce risks caused by natural hazards.

The proposed design is expected to be constructed rapidly following a disaster, thereby promoting achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11 to ensure by 2030, access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

The challenge is organized to address three possible scenarios: Island countries affected by earthquakes, storms and flooding; mountain and inland areas affected by earthquakes and landslides as well as coastal areas affected by storms and flooding.

Architects, engineers, and designers from all over the world can enter the competition as individuals or as teams. Designs may be submitted for any or all three scenarios and participants are encouraged to look beyond “fully prefabricated” housing designs and incorporate local building materials and techniques into their designs; designs could be fully, partially or not prefabricated with a clear aim towards ease of construction.

The designs should incorporate climatic conditions; integration of storage tank for rainwater collection is preferred; toilets should be environmentally friendly, attached or detached and housing material should be fireproof/treatable to be fireproof

Deadline for submission of designs is November 30, 2018. There is no registration fee for participation. A reputable international jury of experts will review submissions and announce winners on 14 December 2018. Winning designs will be exhibited at the World Bank in Washington and the UN-Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi and could eventually inform design of resilient housing or reconstruction work for World Bank-funded projects.

Originally published in The Guardian

Request for these Documents Before You Buy a Land

If you have ever encountered legal ownership claims after purchasing an asset, then you might know a thing or two about transfer of rights and why thorough background checks are vital. It gets unpleasantly intricate when the asset in question is land. You may lose everything.

Land ownership could get fiddly. One can gain, transfer, and lose ownership in several ways. To avoid disputes that would eventually lead to loss of ownership, there are some important documents you need to ask for before closing a deal.

We are happy to share some of them with you:

Approved survey plan

A survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. From this single document, you will get all the information you need on the land to conduct a search.

Ensure to verify the plan with its unique number. Also look out for the following to determine its authenticity:

• The name of owner
• Size of land
• Plan number
• Government stamp

Excision (where applicable)

The Land Use Act, passed in 1978 vested all urban land within a state in the state governor, and all non-urban land in the local governments in which they are found. Consequently, government has the power to acquire any land for public use now or in the future.

However, portions have been and could be ceded to original owners and families. An excision fully documents what has been taken and what is left for communities. Imagine paying for a land government has already taken.

There have been situations where the government seized land, even from owners who bought lawfully from families. An excision and gazzette will protect you from this.

Deed of assignment

A deed is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed. (Wikipedia). This definition shows how important it is to have one.

It is one of the most important documents in land transactions. This is evidence of the agreement between the buyer and the seller and a proof that this property has been sold to you. Without this document, nothing holds the seller legally.

Certificate of occupancy

Certificate of occupancy is a legal document that shows ownership and purpose of land. As earlier stated, the government owns all land and will issue this document when an applicant has met all the necessary requirements.

Also known as C of O, it is believed to be the most important document in land transactions because it gives the owner sole right to the property.

NIA plans forum to celebrate architecture

The Nigerian Institute of Architects has said it plans to bring its members and other professionals in the built environment together to celebrate architecture in the country.

In a statement by its Honorary General Secretary, Mr Sani Saulawa, the institute said one of its core objectives was to attain excellence in creative management of the physical environment and to mobilise informed membership for quality services.

Saulawa said the NIA’s 58th Annual General Meeting and Conference, tagged ‘Eko 2018’, with the theme, ‘Architecture and national regeneration’, would hold in Lagos from November 27 to 30.

He said, “The conference aims to be a premier venue for Nigerian architects, researchers, practitioners and stakeholders to share new ideas, original research results and practical development experiences for critical examination of architecture and in national regeneration.

“This will provide a clear step to see new innovation that is capable of producing alternative architecture technique. The conference is also aimed at bringing all architects across and beyond Nigeria together to celebrate the architecture profession.”

According to him, the conference will feature pre-conference workshop, exhibition and documentaries, and roundtable discussions focusing on challenges of national regeneration and architecture.

Originally published in The Punch

International council urges building code implementation

Pressed to develop buildings that are healthy and structurally safe, the International Code Council (ICC) has urged government to put in place modalities that would promote smooth implementation of building codes in the country.

ICC President of International Code Council, Nigeria National Chapter, Dr. Maurice Ngwaba, who stated this at the opening of a three-day seminar organized by the Nigeria chapter for professionals in built sector, explained that enforcement of the already developed codes by federal authorities will help to control incidences of building collapses, mitigate risks and improve the health of the people.

ICC is a global not-for profit organization with Nigerian chapter and dedicated to health and safety through the building of resilient infrastructures, code compliance, promote awareness of building international codes, educating on code development and usage. Ngwaba noted that the Nigerian building code was first developed in 2006 but lamented that 12-years after, people are yet to use the code en-masse due to poor knowledge of its essence.

He said that government should come up with the framework and structure on how the code could be shared out to people and how professionals in building could use it for improvement of the built industry.

“Objective of code is to bring about better planning practices on how to develop buildings that are healthy and support the welfare of the people. It’s the function of government to make code become law as well as create the structures that would enforce the code. ICC only brings people to come and learn on how to effectively use the code and improve the quality of life of the people”.

According to him, the association is not a code making body for any country because countries are entitled to develop their codes adding that ICC is sets out to promote the use of codes especially those that would be developed by Nigerians for domestic use.

In his presentations, ICC director, Mr. Dave Walls told participants that the body has given directives on how to build in coastal areas should be designed. He stressed that the essence of codes was to address negative impacts of building stresses such as; earthquakes, fire, flood, drought and climate change.

He told the gathering that to enforce codes, there is the need to educate and train the people/professionals, certify them in building processes, train stakeholders on building inspection and laboratory test processes for building materials.Walls also said that codes must be developed through a governmental consensus process with tenets such as; openness, transparency, balance of interest and due process. Earlier, NIA President, Njoku Adibe stressed the need for ICC to strengthen collaboration with regulatory authority like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and other local bodies.

Originally published in The Guardian

3 Ways to Maximize Profit on Your Rental Properties

Making high returns on your investments is not just a function of the size of your portfolio but also its efficiency and effective management. If your real estate investments don’t generate enough profit as expected, you need to restrategize.  Rental property can be a great source of income but it can also be a huge headache if not properly managed.

The biggest areas for improvement that will positively impact your profits are occupancy, on time payments and maintenance.

See below 3 ways to maximize profit on your rental properties.

Tenant Screening

The quality of tenants that occupy your property is like the foundation for everything and a key determinant of how your investment will perform.

As a rental property owner, it’s absolutely vital for the collection of your rental payments to be timely. Payment delays are not good for your business. Bad tenants may also damage your property and leave a whole lot to be repaired. To avoid this, you need to do a thorough background check to ensure you won’t lease to tenants who would give you problems. You need to follow the basic tenant screening practices to identify the loop holes and act accordingly.

The goal is to find quality tenants that take care of your property and also pay consistently while you increase the cash flow from your rental properties. Late payments, stubborn tenants and property mismanagement is not only a nightmare but also ensures you don’t get the best out of your investments.

Long lease

Tenant vacancy is always a huge issue for property owners. The longer the downtime, the more money you lose. One of the ways to manage this risk is to consider long lease.

You could reduce rental rates by giving discounts, depending on the number of years. This may lead to higher revenue especially if you give discounts and do a 3 to 5 year lease or more.

Some of the advantages of long lease also include the following:

  • It attracts serious renters who are willing to commit to your property.
  • Peace of mind knowing that there will be no vacancy for that period.
  • Not doing repairs yearly will increase your savings.

Choose a good location!

This is still as relevant now as it was in the past, if not more. Oh yes, we know you’ve heard it time and time again, but we’d say it again; location matters and it still tops the list of factors that determine profitability in real estate investments. Before you invest in a property, do your research to determine and have an idea of the value potential tenants are willing to place on the property.

Some of the factors to look out for are proximity to amenities, neighborhood status, scenic views, etc.

Contact us for unparalleled Property Management services and  property investment solutions that will improve your ROI.

Afriland Properties Plc Announces Head Office Relocation

Lagos, Nigeria – September 28, 2018

Afriland Properties Plc, the leading property management, investment and development company, with a portfolio size of over N15B, is delighted to announce the relocation of its head office to Afriland Towers, 97/105, Broad street, Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

The relocation to one of the nation’s foremost central business districts, will support and further accommodate Afriland’s rapid growth over the years, while it creates the opportunity to be of more value to clients and expand the ability to serve present and future markets.

The new facility features a more comfortable open workspace, creative and collaborative spaces for design teams, architects and engineers, varied meeting and conference spaces and work-life amenities.

The Managing Director/CEO, Afriland Properties Plc, Uzo Oshogewe, said: “The decision to relocate our head office was strategic to our growth plan. This is a very exciting time for us and it marks a huge milestone for our organization, employees and clients, who will all benefit from the opportunities it offers.

Afriland Towers is a fully serviced, open, and collaborative space presenting a better work environment and it will aid our expansion into additional products and services.”

Formerly known as Raymond House, the building was acquired by Afriland Properties Plc and renovated into a world class, fully serviced, open space office complex and now known as Afriland Towers.

Occupancy is currently at 90% and Afriland is committed to a marketing strategy which will bring maximum value to all stakeholders.

Facilities

Dedicated PHCN Transformer.
4no. 500KVA backup Generators
Centralized Air Conditioning System
3no. Passenger Lifts
Constant Water supply
24hrs Security

Afriland Properties CEO, Uzo Oshogwe’s Interview in September Edition of Genevieve Magazine

How have your experiences over the years molded and shaped you into the leader you are today?

My parents instilled in me some real core values that I hold very dear even to this day. “Treasuring one’s integrity over riches”. “The importance of hard work, getting things done and never giving up when things get tough”. These values have helped me along the way and into becoming the leader I am today.

I have been blessed with the opportunity of working for some of the best organizations and with great people in my 25+years career. In business, you are as strong as your team, so I surround myself with great people and I learn from them every day. I have learnt over time that the perception people around you have of you is greater than your intent. It is important to manage each person in a unique way that brings out the best in them, encourage innovation and creativity whilst maintaining a professional and conducive work environment for all.

Read full interview

FG releases N9bn for 550 low-cost houses

The Federal Government has released N9bn for the construction of 550 low-cost houses in Zuba, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, in the pilot phase.

According to the Federal Housing Authority, the low-cost houses, which shall be replicated in the all state capitals across the country, will be specifically for low income earners.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, FHA, Prof Mohammed Al-Amin, disclosed this in Abuja after inspecting the ongoing construction work at the site of the pilot project in Zuba.

He said, “This project started 14 weeks ago. It is a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom houses and flats. A total of 550 houses are to be produced there. In every site is a direct stage of construction and we are expecting to invest N9bn in the project. Already, we have this money in our account.

“Government has given us this money and we are releasing it according to the dictates of the Public Procurement Act. This is not the only place in Abuja that we are building such a project. We have opened Kwali and in the next two weeks, we are going to open another in Lugbe. These are for low-income earners in Abuja.”

He noted that the project was for workers in the informal sector, adding that the Federal Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Office of the Vice President, was managing the fund for the project.

Al-Amin stated, “So principally, the Zuba housing project is created to be a pilot project of what is called Buhari Bricks, and this essentially entails having houses for all categories of Nigerians. For low income earners or those in the informal sector, we have what is called the Family Home Fund.

“This fund is being administered by the Office of the Vice President and the Federal Ministry of Finance. In this fund, once you can afford to contribute N30,000 monthly, then you get into the process of owning one of the buildings as far as you meet the stipulated criteria.”

He added, “The second aspect of it is for those who have jobs higher than those in the N30,000 monthly contribution category, and they need houses and keep migrating into our cities across the country. If you go to Aba, Lagos, Kano, Katsina and many other cities, you will see that on the fringes of these cities are many new neighbourhoods that are not well planned and the buildings are not good. The reason is that urban migration is taking place.

“So, the only way to check it is to have the mass housing scheme that targets these migrants and provide them with good accommodation, so as to free these cities. So, if you have good and cheap houses, any migrant that comes into the city will rather go there and stay and start coming into the main city. Instead of him to go and buy a farmland and start building and eventually contributing in defacing the city.”

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, FHA, Lawal Shuaibu, said the 550 housing project was a social intervention scheme of the Federal Government, adding that the agency was also involved in the construction of commercial houses for high income earners.

He stated, “This project in Zuba is a social mass housing project that is to accommodate people who cannot afford what it takes to acquire a house at an exorbitant price. So, what we are putting up here are affordable houses.

“Therefore, when we say social houses, it is the social responsibility of the government to extend its kind gesture to the Nigerian public. For the commercial housing project, here we are looking for people who have money and this can be seen in the kind of materials used for the buildings and their aesthetics.”

Originaly published in The Punch

FHA plans N27b housing scheme for low-income earners

In fresh effort to reduce the huge housing deficit in the country, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has begun construction of 1650 housing units, for low-income earners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The project, which comprises 550 homes in Zuba, Kwali and Lugbe axis of the city, is expected to gulp about N27billion. The buildings range from one-bedroom flats to five bedroom luxury apartments.

FHA Managing Director, Prof. Mohammed Al-Amin said the project located in “Zuba is almost completed while the one in Kwali is ongoing and Lugbe phase II will begin next week.”

He stressed that there are also ongoing projects in Apo, Guzape area of the FCT for the high-income earners, which is 90 per cent completed. FHA also plans to begin another scheme in Maitama area in three-month time, which will comprise of villas, duplex and luxury houses.

Mohammed said the initiative, which is to make houses affordable to the low-income earners is under the social housing scheme, and the present administration is committed to making that a reality.

He said locating houses far away from the main city does not go well with the government, hence the initiative of FHA building houses in the fringes of the city.

On how affordable the buildings would be to low-income earners, he said: “The demand for the houses is high. None will be above five million and there are from one to five bedrooms. The good thing is if you are going through the government mortgage system you don’t have to do what is called equity. You don’t have to pay 30 per cent of the money before a house is giving to you.”

Commenting on the issue of cartels who defraud potential land or house buyers, the FHA boss advised buyers not to negotiate with anyone who is not a staff of the FHA. He added that the digitization initiative engaged FHA will eliminate double allocations, forgery of documents and ensure quick services.

“The cartels lie to potential buyers that they have land to give them. We keep telling Nigerians not to negotiate with anyone who is not an FHA staff. Even if the person is from FHA, you should ask him if he is from estate department. Only people in estate department and to some extent marketing department are allowed to interact with the public’’

Originally published in The Guardian

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