Enugu Tenants Kick As Landlords Commence Collection Of Caution Fees

Some tenants in Enugu metropolis, Wednesday, expressed reservations over the compulsory caution fees which some landlords in the coal city state have made compulsory before letting their houses out.

According to them, the new introduction has made renting of houses in the capital city very expensive.

THE WHISTLER reports that the collection of caution fees began in some houses in Enugu late last year, and has gradually become popular among house owners.

Tenants are asked to deposit a percentage of their house rents with the landlord as precaution should they damage or deface any part of the building, our correspondent learnt.

A tenant, Josephat Ogbuh, living at GRA, Enugu, said, “I have never heard this kind of thing. You pay agency fee, legal fee, and now caution fee, plus the skyrocketing rents. Caution fees began gradually, and have continued to spread. I have not seen anybody who was refunded anything when they want to vacate their apartments.”

Mr Nkem Okwor, residing at Emene, said, “I paid N300, 000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Then paid N30, 000 legal, and another N40, 000 agency fee. Do they have any difference? I lived in Abeokuta, and over there, agency fees cover everything. When I got my accommodation, I didn’t go through anybody, but still I was made to pay an agency fee.”

A landlord at Golf Estate, who identified himself as Mike, said, “It’s not everywhere. I don’t collect such, but I know where it is made compulsory. The point is that some tenants damage their apartments when leaving. Some spoil the surfaces. The truth is that nobody can leave any apartment better than he or she met it. So, landlords will always find a way to claim such caution fees.”

A lawyer, Elochi Ozoene, said, “It’s illegal. Unless tenants get judgements in courts, such practice will continue. Sooner, it will be widespread. It makes accommodation very expensive. I advise aggrieved tenants to seek redress in court. I doubt if landlords have a common union in the state; such platforms would have been the place to petition erring landlords, although no law stops profit maximization for landlords because of high cost of building materials. Again, Consumer Protection Council can be of help because caution fees are exploitative.”

Our investigation could not trace any tenant that ever got back his or her caution fees after payment as there would always be grounds for landlords to justify their action.

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