Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Fake agents, area boys’ now rent unoccupied houses in Abuja, Lagos

…Police begins trail of syndicates in Lagos

Fake housing agents and in some cases, area boys’ are now duping desperate house seekers in cities like Lagos and Abuja where there are several choice estates and completed houses that have stayed unoccupied for several years.

Investigations by Business Hilights show that the fraudsters’ took inspirations from observing that many completed gated houses in both cities have remained unoccupied more than three to five years after painting and fittings.

Key discovery is that both fake agents and area boys connive with stationed gatemen to strike the deal.

One of the gatemen who spoke to our correspondent in Lekki on grounds of anonymity revealed that “After one month the new illegal tenants parked in, we gatemen that brokered the deal will use idea to inform that Oga or the real house owner is not aware, but he is not likely to come and check any time soon”

“Just live and be ready to go any time, but not too soon”, the gateman disclosed, adding that “If I get intelligence that Oga wants to come, I will hint the tenants’ to lock up their apartments and temporarily disappear pending when the owners will come and go”.

The fake agents are believed to be working with the lead idea that lot of estates built by some Nigerians who got illicit money either via looting of public treasury or drug do not bother even if the buildings remain unoccupied for decades.

Besides, the dirty deals of the agents and area boys stemmed from the discovery that the owners prefer outright sale without any mortgage arrangement or nothing.

Having observed that majority of home seekers cannot afford the given price, the go ahead and forge papers and rent the apartments to desperate persons who are not even ready to dig deep into the real owners.

However, whereas so many residents in some of these houses may not know why they are yet to meet face to face with their real landlords, others are not disturbed in so far they usually pay their annual rents to who rented the apartment to them.

Some of the area where such renting drama is playing out in Lagos includes Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki and Magodo.

In Abuja, estates in high-brow areas like Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse II, Apo, Dei Dei, Gwarimpa, Lugbe, Wuse, Gudu, Life Camp and Katampe.

One of the ways to identify houses where such deals took place is that the price is always ridiculously less than what obtains even in the immediate vicinity.

For example, if one gets a four-bedroom bungalow in a choice area of Abuja as low as N1 million per annum, serious safety check is needed because now in Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and Garki such apartments go for between N3 million and N5 million a year.

Only recently in Lagos, a syndicate ran into a big trouble as their bubble burst into the hands of security operatives who are now investigation the matter after the group has duped well over 100 desperate home seekers.

Operatives attached to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Alagbon, Lagos, effected the arrest of the property developer for allegedly defrauding over 300 house seekers.

The suspect, according to the victims, allegedly used various names and conniving with over 20 house agents to dupe them of over N50 million. According to them, the property developer and his wife renovated three houses in the Iponri, Aguda and Coker-Orile areas of Lagos State, which they allegedly used in defrauding victims.

Already, a human rights group, Non-Violence and Safety ICHR, lead by Ms Ene Sarah Unobe, in a petition to the Deputy Inspector General of Police on behalf of the victims, urged the police to thoroughly investigate the matter, adding that the scam involved a syndicate which specialised in defrauding house seekers in the state.

The petition made available to Business Hilights read in parts: “I was in my office when over 100 people stormed my office that they have been duped by a property developer and his agents. I was shocked at their number. Some of them were weeping and saying they have become homeless and stranded.

“The victims range from young people to the elderly and from what we gathered from them, they had already paid for apartments but getting to the house, they found other people occupying the apartments they have paid for. From our investigation, the developer, in connivance with his wife and other agents, collected money from more than the number of tenants for the apartments and in some cases, 11 people claimed they were given the keys to one apartment.

“We took up their complaints and petitioned the DIG Intelligence and Investigation, Force Headquarters, Abuja, and he directed the DCP Administration, FCID Alagbon, Lagos, to investigate the case. From our estimation, the victims parted with over N50 million for decent accommodations but they have been rendered homeless. We have 316 of them complaining about this syndicate,” the human rights group revealed in the petition.

Police authorities confided in our correspondent that investigations are underway, hinting that very soon, arrests will be made and suspects charged to court.