For a lot of home owners or landlords in Nigeria, the house is a cash yielding asset which once built remains untouched except when considered extremely necessary. We see that rental property as a bank and the tenants as vaults who can easily give us an annual cash stash at our behest for the rest of our lives. Well, the story is usually cosy and sweet until the building begins to reach its 7th year or so, the honeymoon seems short lived.

We suddenly begin to realize that our stair hall is leaking, the roof probably broke; this is followed by the day water suddenly finished in the tank and we discover the faucets and Water cisterns are broken. We are in shock, how did this happen? From one repair to another, the roof leak to the fence patch, to the replacement of soggy wardrobes, shattered glass, clogged gutters and sometimes cracked walls.

The maintenance cost begins to compete with your lifestyle spending such that the landlord begins to take loans or ask his children for money to maintain their houses. The Landlord begins to either get aggressive and raising rents, or he gets really tired and asks everyone to quit the house especially when the home is in a terrible condition such as they cannot easily fill.

This is the story with property owners in Lagos, and hinterland states such as Ogun and Oyo. We have a lot of buildings whose owners and tenants are in “sifia pains” because their experience doesn’t match their rent rates. And the difficulty of building maintenance is just one. In the course of time Landlords tend to have disputes with tenants which even their lawyers need to take to “alfa” or “patio” to seek spiritual ways to sort them out. Take the commonest case, where the tenant is unable to renew his rent and protected by law he cannot be asked to leave the building and his items cannot be locked out of the building. Under law the tenant is very well protected and as such the landlords tend to begin to receive limited returns on their property again. The question will begin to pop up their minds as to whether they should change their taste in tenants or go through with forced evictions regardless of the risk involved, or in the extreme they might opt to put the building up for sale. You see managing tenants is quite a heavy task one you don’t want to engage in either as a retired landlord seeking rest in old age or as a young successful landlord who has other business to deal with daily.
Then there are the cases of interfacing government agencies and community development associations. The DISCO, Water Board, the Estate security dues, the waste management, the other development levies. Those are headaches your sole proprietor landlord or his caretaker hassle about regularly and they can’t seem to get a handle on things. It is tough for them and I totally understand that, which is why they should not get themselves stressed about these matters especially for landlords with multiple properties who may be too old to take care of them. The role of the facility manager is to ease the house owner of these stresses. Facility management as defined by the International Facility Management Association; is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.
The house owner’s dream from the conception through the life cycle of the building is carried effectively by engaging the Facility Manager through those stages and getting them in to help you draw out maximum value on your real estate investment. So my point is exactly to say that FM is not building maintenance but a really wide field that ensures you can go to rest while someone looks after your building for you and keeps your investment in shape – literally.
In part two I will be listing out the details of the 9 specific benefits you will derive as a Nigerian Landlord as you engage a Facility Management expert over your investment.

Testimony Idowu is an Architect and Real Estate Developer
Twitter: @spacecubeafrica

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