If getting a decent accommodation in Abuja is difficult, it is twice as difficult for unmarried ladies who face all manner of discrimination and stigmatisation from property owners and managers.
Accommodation, for many who live in Abuja, is the most important thing which once sorted out, makes living in the nation’s capital city a lot easier.
Apart from the fact that the cost of rent in many parts of the city is prohibitive, the state of the houses is usually nothing to write home about. This is in addition to the many charges such as inspection fee, caution fee, agency fee, facility or service charge one has to to contend with.
Most times after renting the house, the tenant must undertake extensive renovation to make it habitable.
Naja’atu Salihu said she was filled with joy when she got a new job and had to relocate to Abuja.
With a fund of N500,000 given to her by her parents who live in Katsina State to enable her settle in, she had hoped getting an apartment and settling in the city would be a breeze but she was wrong.
Getting a befitting one-bedroom apartment close to her work place would cost no less than N1 million, she soon found out. She would later find an apartment but there was strict instruction from the property owner to the real estate agent not to rent it to a single lady.
“He will not give you the house to rent because you are not married, the agent said to me, after he placed a call to the landlord,” Salihu recalled.
Rabiat Isiaka, a fashion designer, lived and operated her business from a relative’s home for three years before deciding it was time to move out, as the business expanded.
She settled for a two-bedroom apartment in Wuse area, hoping to use one of the rooms as work station and had saved up N1.5 million for rent, N150,000 agency fee and N100,000 service charge.
Everything was going well until it was time to sign the tenancy agreement. The landlord demanded for evidence of employment and a referral letter from her employer. She explained she that she was self-employed.
“I can overlook the fact that you are not reliably employed if you were married, I am sorry I do not rent my houses to single ladies,” the landlord retorted thus ending the transaction.
Maryam Adam said she has lived on her own for 10 years. She said when she first set out to find a place to live, she went all over town with different agents, each demanding N2000 for a few hours of taking her round in her car. When she finally got a place she liked, she was asked to produce a referral letter from her place of work attached with her payslip. If she had a husband to take up the rent responsibility, these conditions would be waived.
“And please don’t go and borrow a husband to present to me, we have a way of finding out,” the landlord cautioned.
She lost the house in the end because she was single.
This trend is not absolute. In Amaka Igwe’s case, the landlord only desired proof of gainful employment which she provided and got her house.
Mr. Ayo Ogedembe is the Executive Chairman of Property Connect Abuja. When 21st Century Chronicle chatted with him on the issue, he expressed surprise, saying in his over 20 years experience in real estate, he had never managed a property where landlords gave such conditions or reservations about unmarried ladies.
“They just want responsible tenants that will pay their rent when due and abide by the clauses in the tenancy agreement,” he said.
Probed further, he said even though some landlords are specific about married people, it is not targeted at ladies.
Alhaji Shuaibu Arome (not real name) said that he had an agreement with his wife, who said she doesn’t trust him to have an unmarried woman around the house as a tenant. In order to maintain peace in the house, he turns down single ladies as tenants.