Recently, I met with one of my new clients who bath me with litany of complaint because two of his occupiers packed their bags and luggages without complying with the instructions given by the mediators, they left with several months of unpaid rent amount and I was surprised at the cacophony of his voice as he rant bitterly over the entire events as it unfolded.
This incident made my client very unhappy because he relied so much on the fact the mediation center should be able to handle the recovery of his unpaid rent amount and despite all the efforts made to get things done appropriately he was left in the lurch because the occupiers still left without making any payment as against the instructions of the mediator.
Unfortunately as it is now, my fear or my niggling concerns is that many occupiers may still want to leave and vacate their apartment without paying owed rent, service and utility charges just like the previous occupiers since no measure is taken to ensure this does repeat itself.
The poor management and administration of the property is largely responsible for this problem because prior to taking over, the management of the building is questionable, there has been series of complaints from occupiers of poor rental service and bad treatment from the previous dubious agents which led to occupiers ganging up against the property owner, they resolve not to pay the new rent rate, owed service and utility charges as well as stopped their legitimate responsibilities in the premises and of course every other joint activities in the premises.
This issue is a complicated one that made the property owner decided that he wanted every occupier out of his building and this was why I was brought on board to resolve the problem and set things straight to restore and formalize relations.
Few weeks into the assignment, I discovered that the unwillingness of the property owner to put things in the right perspectives is one of the major relevant factors and a big obstacle to the assignment that must be resolved before we can move forward. The property owner does not want to let go the management of his property.
Not letting go the management of his property for efficient and effective management allows him to enjoy dealing with quarks and touts who only use force in achieving his goals and objectives at a reduced cost or tips. This approach has worked for him in the past because most of the non payment and holdover cases were solved miraculously out of mediation and court that made him it think he can successfully manage his property by himself until all hit the deck.
The issue now is that the quarks and touts are no more appealing to him or are not yielding much result as before or perhaps tthe occupiers are now aware of their rights as it affects their leased apartment.
It is also somewhat expensive for him to engage experts or professionals and also the issue of trust is one of many reasons I think is still making him not to let any expert have exclusive agent right to his property or perhaps not wanting to pay monthly management fee on rent.
When I tried to define the problem in order to identify the central issue, I discovered the occupiers were also not as happy same as the property owner which is unknown to either party, both parties think the other is responsible for the others problem and I understand that I have a big issue to deal with.
My greatest challenge in resolving this issue is that the property owner’s goal and objective of contracting me is to evict all the occupiers in the building which I know is difficult especially when we have some who have paid to date and he also wanted the case to be completed without us having to go to court because of the ruinous legal and court fees.
My best option is for us to invite the occupiers to the mediation center to mediate in order for all parties to spit out whatever is creating or causing them trouble in the building but I know for sure there is no way we could invite all occupiers for eviction proceedings without anyone raising a eyebrow particularly when some have paid to date.
Its obvious this procedure is new to my client because this is not his style of resolving or dealing with his problems with occupiers, his usual way is having some quarks and touts bundled them out of his property disregarding the tenancy right of the occupiers. The story has changed there is an unexpected change in attitude of the occupiers that complicated the matter in the eyes of my client.
In my own understanding of the situation, If we take all the occupiers to mediation center for eviction case proceedings, although this would cost a little or free but we may not be able to get all that is owed by the occupiers and we may also not be satisfied with the ruling of the mediator at the end of the day.
I advised we took some, particularly those who are owing, about three of them to the mediation center and whatever comes out of this will determine our next move, but unfortunately the mediator encouraged the owner to let the one of the occupier leave without the unpaid rent while the second promised to pay at the end of January 2018 but he left with some of the owed rent.
As of now two occupiers has left with unpaid rent and many more to be taken to the mediation center. The property owner said if this eviction proceeding case was handled by his quarks and touts, whom according to him are not in town now, those whose actions will bring positive results even if their actions are against the tenancy law or infringe on the right of the occupiers. This most times discourage me anytime am trying to explain what the law says to him and he is like damned the law.
Unfortunately the situation should have never been this bad if and only if we have a working and functional rent control and regulation law in place as well as a body that handles rent registration and preparation of petition for administrative review like what we have in the United State.
In New York City, besides having the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, there is another unit that is known as Small Building Assistance Unit that helps and provides special assistance to owners of small building that are rent regulated.
The bad news is that the absence of a body like this is responsible for why our rent control and regulation law as well as the tenancy law still remain a phantasm because the success of these laws hinge on the effective and efficient housing administration and management by these instituted bodies in New York City, United State of America.
The Small Building Assistance Unit of the Division Of Housing and Community Renewal performs so many functions that eliminate any brewing contentious issue between homeowners and occupiers, the body does help in rent registration and assist in the organization and preparation of both homeowner and occupier petition for administrative review.
The unit offers free advisory and consulting services on issues relating to preparation of forms for allowable rent increase be it for application for major capital improvement or individual apartment improvement rent increases.
It also respond to homeowners hardship rent increase that is homeowners who are faced with severe economic hardship and challenges could also benefit from this provision of the law that allows them to increase their rent to cushion the effect Of the adversity. It is very easy to take advantage of this provision simply by applying for hardship rent increase that is subject to the approval of the DHCR and Small Building Assistance Unit.
This unit does not only respond to homeowners hardship rent increase but ALSO to the occupiers objection to the building registration information if there is contradiction or disparity in the information the homeowner provides compared to what is available with the DHCR.
If we could institute a body such as the DHCR and Small Building Assistance Unit with power to swiftly resolve homeowners and occupiers issues before it gets to the mediation and the court. These bodies have the will have all the facts and figure of every building that is in its jurisdiction most especially registered buildings, homes and properties.
This will put the body in the best position to make and take decision based on the information it has before any case could be taken to the mediation center or the court and if you ask me this helps to protect investment properties from losses and of losing part or all of their investment to unscrupulous and dubious occupiers.
In the same vein responsible occupiers can also be rest assured that they are getting good value and great rental service for their money because the body assist both the homeowner and occupier in the process of lease renewal activities and the understanding of notices and the requirements that be must be met before a renewal can take place. This to me should make everybody happy at the end of the day.
It is worthy of note that the unit also offer dispute resolution to homeowners and occupiers which is far from what we have here because the unit has all the history, facts and figures of all the apartment and building in its jurisdiction and does not to rely on the word of mouth from both the homeowner or the occupier to resolve any problem or issue.
The problems or contentious issues of incessant rent increase or overcharges will not arise and will be history when all the history of these apartments and buildings is with a government instituted authority for effective and efficient administration of the property which are managed as investment properties in accordance with the provision of the law.
If we promulgate laws that allow the people manage their properties as investment properties with the benefit of tax savings, advantages, deductibles and depreciation, it will enable the people not only build wealth and financial stability but also allow them to enjoy same benefits and provisions of investing in real estate as in developed nations of the world.
This will put an end to unreasonable and incessant rent increase because with this law every rent increment due to building wide improvement or individual apartment improvement such as installation of appliances can only be approved by this unit and the DHCR which gives the occupier a rest of mind that all is well.
Having institution as DHCR and small building assistance unit will save us a lot of wasted time, effort and money that is spent on settling of nonpayment or holdover eviction case either in out of court settlement or in court. The delay in getting judgment, the burdensome process involved, inefficient and ineffective court system and the fact that their is no provision of the law that allows properties to be managed as an investment properties.
These time related setbacks can sometimes be embarrassing, confusing and frustrating especially if you don’t get your desired outcome from the situation. My client has been on this eviction proceedings for about five months now, he has lost some money to some occupiers and others are planning to outwit my client by moving out without paying because some were successful leaving without making any payment.
If this can happen at the mediation level what will happen if it were to be in the court of law, may be it will take a year or two before judgment is given for taking possession of his property. What will then happen to his investment property in those two years. I surmise his investment property asset will yours truly turns into a liability.
It is important we have a law that allows the people treat their properties as investment properties, a law that ensures non-payment and holdover eviction cases on investment property be completed in few weeks to enable the properties maintain their status as investment properties and prevent unnecessary losses in its administration and management.
We must not ignorantly confuse motion with action because we are good and quick at jumping at the bandwagon most especially nostrums, we must endeavour to critically examine this issue to enable us define the problem, the central issue and all other relevant factors contributing to the problem. Not until then we can differentiate the essential goals and objectives for better administration and management of properties this we help us to articulate the strength and weaknesses of our course of actions.
I strongly believe if we have a body as DHCR and institute a unit that deal with all of these issues then the less and less the problems and worries we shall have and the few or no case will be difficult to resolve to the point of having to go to mediation center or the court of law.
I want to firmly state that this not an inchoate idea, it is an idea that has been adopted in many nations of the world and if it is great for other nations why not in Nigeria, Lagos State In particular
Please lets call it a day here today until next time, stay blessed
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