Abiodun Doherty, firstname.lastname@example.org
When two or more individuals decide to live together in an apartment as joint tenants or when a person decides to rent part of his or her apartment to another person as a sub-tenant with shared facilities, we have a shared tenancy. This arrangement is more of a pragmatic arrangement rather than a legal creation. In the Western world, this is a common phenomenon based on the need to reduce expenses and maximise income. In Nigeria, there are few examples of this type of arrangements but the idea is not yet widespread.
In the nineties, when the population growth of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja was surging and accommodation was few and expensive, many people were forced to use this concept. Many of those transferred from other states could not afford to rent a flat alone. The cost was too exorbitant. The solution that many people came up with was to share the apartment with others in order to spread the cost. This was more circumstantial rather than deliberate. Using this concept in a deliberate manner can save you money and can earn you additional income.
Many of us have rooms in our homes that we either underutilise or can do without. In some instances, individuals have become smart at maximising space by making sure that it is either used by them or others who are willing to pay for it. For instance during vacation, some people lock up their homes for weeks without anyone making use of it.
During this period, certain costs are unavoidable such as salaries for security men, cleaning of the compound and other necessary maintenance costs. These are some of the reasons why some people advertise their homes for short let during those periods.
Shared apartments allow for companionship. There are many single men and women living alone in big houses that are purely status symbols rather than necessities. The pragmatic mind considers the need to have company, share the cost and also share the responsibility for the maintenance of the property. Sharing these responsibilities reduces stress and enables you to save money that could be put to better use.
While some are still trying to digest this concept, many are increasingly joining this trend in our urban centres like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. There are applications that enable you to search for and book a room in a residential flat for a short period of time. These services are already in use and are gaining momentum. Many people are discovering that they could earn money by making their homes available for letting without having to establish or set up a hotel.
The critical issue in an environment like ours is usually security. The issue that most people struggle with is the fear of the unexpected that could happen once you let out a portion of your apartment to a stranger. This is an issue that is more real when it comes to the online applications that provide accommodation booking services. In the case of a long-term shared accommodation arrangement, you are expected to follow the same due diligence that you will normally engage when you are dealing with a normal or regular landlord and tenant relationship.
It is also important to stress that the concept of shared apartment cannot be adopted unilaterally if you are not the owner of the property. You are bound by the terms of the agreement that brought you into the property. If the tenancy agreement states that you cannot let or sublet the property you have to abide by that condition. In most cases, the tenancy agreement always allows for variation with the written consent of the landlord. What this means is that you should inform the property owner of your intention to sublet the property before you proceed. Failure to do this may jeopardise your tenancy and will leave you exposed if something unpleasant happens.
The most usual area of contention when it comes to the shared apartment is personality conflict and the need to seek the other person’s permission or consent before engaging in certain activities. For instance, if you intend to have a birthday party in the apartment, you need to inform the person and ensure that the person is carried along so that there is no conflict. This means that you should know the person to a reasonable degree if you intend to share the apartment long term. To prevent any conflict on the shared spaces, it is important to discuss who is responsible for what and preferably put this in writing. This should cover issues such as regular payments or services.
While this aspect of real estate is definitely not for everyone, it is an underserved niche that has great potential. Many expatriates visiting the country for business prefer a shared apartment that has been made popular by world-class booking applications. Exploring this trend may be worth your consideration.
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