trader, Mrs Janet Akinyele, was frustrated when she approached a house agent to inquire about a room, but was told that a one-room apartment she last rented at N12,000, was now N41,000, including agent charges.
Akinyele, who resides at the Alakia area of Ibadan, was further dazed when she inquired from the agent the reason for the sharp increase in price, and she was giving a factual but worrisome reply; “madam, if you can’t rent it, those who will rent it will do so without delay”
The agent’s unwavering position made her sad, even as she attributed the skyrocketing house rent to cyber-criminals popularly known as yahoo boys.
Speaking to our correspondent, Akinyele said, “The situation is getting worse. Nobody wants to think about how we eat again; all they are concerned about is money. They just decide to increase without thinking of the poor. Where I am with my family now, we are just managing the place; we have yet to get money to rent another place, and I just came here to see the agent with faith and the amount he is telling me, I don’t know how to go about it.
“But these , when you tell them any amount, they are ready to pay. I am tired and there is nowhere I will run to except God have mercy on me. When they increase the rent and we are unable to pay, they will now be on our nerves and start asking us to pack out. When you hear the amount for renting a house here, you will be shocked that it’s not like that before. You will hear a house of N300,000, before you know it, those boys have rented it.
The economic situation of the country has not only worsened the living condition of the people, but also increased criminality such as cybercrime popularly known as ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’.
A further investigation by our correspondent revealed that some ‘selfish’ house owners deliberately increase the rents of their houses not only because of the economic situation of the country but because they are aware of the willingness of the Yahoo-Yahoo boys to pay whatever amount they are charged.
A civil servant, Olanrewaju Akinseye, who has been in search of a house for a while, said he was frustrated with the cost of an apartment he had wanted to rent, only to find out later that the house had been taken.
The house he had earlier enquired but couldn’t pay as a result of the high cost was taken by suspected barely few days after his visit to the place.
Narrating his experience to our correspondent, he said, “My place of work is at Idi-ape in ibadan, I was offered a one bedroom flat for N250,000, something that was not more than N80,000 before. So, I told them I would be back. I went thereafter to the Sango area to check another house which was offered to me for N110,000. So, I opted for it. I think two or three days later, I was passing through the house at Idi-ape and I noticed some guys at the house with their dreaded hairs. I could not determine if they were but that’s how they used to dress,” he said.
Speaking further, Akinseye blamed house agents for increasing the woes of the Nigerians by renting out houses to to earn more.
“Even those agents will tell you that if you can’t pay for it, those who can afford it will pay for it, and of course, we know those that can pay, and they are those because they have free money with them, we are civil servants, we labour before we get paid. So, we can’t throw them around like they do. The truth is that the situation is affecting a lot of people because the agents and even landlords don’t care again,” he added.
On his part, Sunday Odekola, who resides at Ogbomoso area of Oyo State, said the situation in the area was getting worse on a daily basis.
According to him, those boys spend lavishly and display their ill-gotten riches without considering the consequences. He added that the situation had made life difficult for other people who living moderately.
“It is a very big issue here; those yahoo boys are majorly responsible for the increase of houses here because whatever amount they are told, they will pay without negotiation but someone who is not a Yahoo boy will think twice and negotiate properly. That is what some landlords don’t want.
“This issue has made life difficult for several people over here. And even the landlords are not helping matters; they increase the house rents without considering other people. They see these suspected cyber criminals as the ones that can pay their money, but it’s really unfortunate.”
Similarly, Adekola Ayomide, a resident of Offa in Kwara State, said were intimidating low income earners with the manners they flaunt money around.
“Those yahoo boys are not helping matters. Sometimes when you are negotiating for a house, which is where you will see these guys come and before you know it, they will pay and even pay double.
“Even if you have paid N40,000 for a house and you have not packed into the house, if they see a and they charge him N100,000; he will pay and the agent will refund your money. They just look for one excuse and that will be it.”
The menace of cyber fraudsters is a growing issue which has attracted global concern in the last few years as many youths daily joins the illegal business of financial, intellectual property, and personal identity theft amongst individuals, corporate organisations, and governments.
There has also been an increase in cyber crimes within the last eight years in the country.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a total of 3,785 convictions were recorded in 2022. Those convicted included internet fraudsters and other financial criminals. The lavish lifestyle of the , however, has continued to tell on the nation which has a large number of poor people.
According to the World Bank, 22 million people in Nigeria do not have the housing they need. While the National Bureau of Statistics reveals that 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multi-dimensionally poor.
A house agent, Ayoade Oyediran, said yahoo boys always entice house owners with extra payments in a bid to ensure that the house is given to them.
He said, “I don’t do such things but some of my colleagues, who have spoken about it, say sometimes when someone has paid for a house and has been issued receipt, when another person suspected to be comes and say he has interest in the same house, you hear them saying they will double the payment. And you know how things are; who will see money and reject it?
“This thing has made most landlords nowadays to be greedy so much that they gradually increased their house rents without considering that not everyone that is a .
“What some of them even do now is that they disguise themselves as if they are not yahoo boys. They will wear a cap to cover their hair and an Islamic gown to cover their body so you would think that they are decent and religious people.”
On her part, a widow and landlady in Ibadan, Mrs Deborah Akinleye, who is a retired civil servant, said, “Some landlords are selfish people and I won’t blame them too because most times the house is the only source of income they have. So, what do you expect when they see someone that can pay double for what they live on? But for me, I screen people that come to me; I have a form I give to anyone.”
A landlord in Ibadan, Alfa Animashaun, warned against giving houses to yahoo boys. According to him, renting out houses to criminals has spiritual implications as most of the yahoo boys are now into yahoo plus.
“You see this issue of is serious; most of them will not end up well. Some landlords lack understanding. That’s why they are doing what they are doing. If they know that the source of the money that they collect has a lot to do with life, they will be more careful. The money most of these are spending is not clean; some of them are spending blood money and you can’t collect blood money and go scot free. There is a spiritual implication to everything. I will urge them to desist from it”.
On his part, Mr Lateef Shittu, a landlord in Ogbomosho, said their association, Oke Owode Landlord Association, has mandated that all tenants must be properly registered and well known before houses are rented to them.
“We have a landlord association and before we give anyone a house, we give them forms to fill, and tell them about our guidelines”.
Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone interview, the spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said anyone who allowed his premises to be used to commit offense was liable to 15 years jail term.