Mistakes to avoid when renting apartments

Everyone loves to live in a beautiful apartment. However, getting one involves a lot of things including the impact it will have on your wallet.

It’s easy to get lost in the thought of getting a new apartment and overlook the downsides of making a long-term commitment. In a country like Nigeria, conversations about renting an apartment has remained a regular thing.

An earlier report from PUNCH, the Nigerian Proptech – Estate Intel, said that home prices, both rental and sale have increased.

According to the report, construction costs have risen accordingly as cement prices have increased from N2,510 in 2021 to N4,200 in 2022.

The report noted that while all these costs were likely to have been impacted by rising property prices, there was no resulting increase in disposable income, making residential property unaffordable to the average Nigerian.

The report read in part, “A number of rules of thumb have been established to determine how much an individual should place aside for their rent based on their income.

“However, the most widely used rule is the 30 per cent rule proposed by the United States Government in 1981.

“This rule proposes that an individual should set aside at most 30 per cent of their monthly salary to pay for their monthly rent, or 30 per cent of their annual salary to pay for their annual rent.”

It added that, “This means that any individual or household that spends more than 30 per cent from the salary on rent is burdened.”

According to paylab.com, individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 years old in Nigeria collect a monthly salary between N66,000 and N350,000 depending on the type of job.

This translates to an annual salary between the range of N792,000 and N4.2m. The average salary collected within this age range is N191,000 per month, while the median is N161,000 per month.

For the reasons stated above, this may not be possible in some high-cost areas where rents are significantly higher. In such cases, you may have to compromise on location, living space, or amenities to keep your housing costs within your budget.

It is important to remember that if you spend a large portion of your income on housing, you will have limited funds available for other expenses and savings, so it’s important to find a balance that works for you and your financial situation.

Personal finance experts and real estate advisors provide advice on renting an apartment and various financial pitfalls to watch out for to avoid excessive spending or unexpected expenses.

An investment banker, the Founder, FinTribe,  – a financial community just for women, Jennifer Awirigwe, explains to PUNCH, that while this rule is valid, “It cannot apply equally to everyone.” In her opinion, the amount someone pays determines the amount of budget allocated to it.

“Divide your rent by 12, the figure you have is what you save monthly for rent,” she says.

Explaining the concept of budgeting for rent, Awirigwe notes that, “It doesn’t make sense to spend your life working for your landlord. I am also of the school of thought that we are all unique in our needs, personal finance is personal.

“What makes sense to me may not make sense to someone else. For some people, spending more than what we consider appropriate is a lifesaver for them.”

She cites the example of an individual who considers the proximity to a job location as a justification for the rent.

Awirigwe says, “But the office environment could have upscale rent. They may decide to still pay the high rent just for their peace of mind. I won’t judge them, hopefully, the increased productivity.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Wealthy Motley, Solafunmi Sosanya, says that budgeting is a key fact to note when renting and that individuals should think about the long plan to gather the next payment.

She says, “If your house rent is about N1.2m and let’s say you earn N450,000, you know that at the end of the year, you will pay the rent. Invariably you should know that from January, you should be removing N100,000 from your salary each month.”

However, she warns against renting apartments that are not compatible with one’s financial income.

She adds, “I can tell you that on a N250,000 salary, you should never be living in a house of N1.2m. Because essentially N1.2m is about five to six months of your salary so, that means you are working for six months of the year just to pay the landlord.”

Sosanya argues that factoring other living expenses apart from the cost of the rent will also put things in perspective for the rentee.

She says, “So you see that in the first instance when a person plans to take a house rent, after carefully doing some financial mathematics; If you think about it you will already see if you can afford the house or not. If you don’t do that, it is when you get into debt and start borrowing.”

Another school of thought on this matter notes that individuals should pay attention to understand all of the fees that are included, such as application fees, security deposits, and utility fees. Some landlords may also charge additional fees for amenities or services like parking or maintenance.

The President of the Mutual Estate Agents Association of Lagos, Nigeria, Lucas Akinbode, adds that working with credible agents who have traceable locations is important.

He also warns individuals not to “Pay for an uncompleted house, make sure that the apartment is ready before payment, and trust nobody either the agents or the landlord becase there are dubious agents and Landlords.”

Akinbode points out that anxiety when looking for an apartment often leads to mistakes,

He says, “Taking it slow and steady makes the easiest journey. Try to know the person you’re paying very well, either the landlord or someone with delegated power that has power of attorney.  Make sure that you collect the receipt and key, then the agreement paper which stands as a bond between both of you.”

Above all be aware of hidden fees, from electricity debts incurred by previous tenants to terms of the lease agreement. If the rent is set to increase during the term of the lease, make sure you are comfortable with the amount of the increase and that it fits within your budget.

By considering these potential pitfalls and being proactive in budgeting and planning, you can avoid unexpected expenses and ensure that you are able to enjoy your apartment without financial stress.


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