Hopes of cheaper construction cost and land ownership for prospective property developers may still be a pipe dream going by fresh increase in land survey fees in Lagos area by the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS).
The increase by Lagos chapter of the institution, which may act as a test bed for professional scale of fees in the built environment sector has ruffled feathers in the housing industry. Other professional bodies are watching how events will unfold, while experts and private developers foresee increase in lands and housing cost.
The chapter had raised the land survey plan fees by over 300 per cent, starting from April 1. The fees cut across different zones of the state. For instance, Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry Ojo and Ajeromi Ifelodun local government that is currently N120, 000 it has been increased to N350, 000.
While Lagos Island, Eti- Osa, Ikeja and Papa, which is presently N300, 000 now is going for N1million. Somolu, Alimoso, Mushin, Agege, Ibeju Lekki, Kosofe, Lagos Mainland, Amuwo Odofin Local Government, formerly pegged at N180, 000 has been hiked to N650, 000.
Some housing professionals that spoke to The Guardian criticised the move, saying it would also make prospective homeowners to cut corners and increase the cost of procurement of land documents.
President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Dr. Bolarinde Patunola-Ajayi said that the development will make few people to invest in property as the new rate is higher than the cost of buying land in some locations.NIESV president, who dismissed call for the institution to increase its scale of fees, noted that such development would have dire consequence for the housing industry.
For the Second vice president, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, said that the institution is justified in increasing its fees as inflation has affected members of the built environment professionals. He disclosed that such fees will be pass on to the would-be subscribers of houses or landed property.
But, property developers under the aegis of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) are not allowing the matter to lie low. REDAN has engaged the services of a law firm and threatened to go court.
In a letter to the surveyors, counsel to REDAN, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, asked the surveyors to suspend the implementation of the proposed increment, in order to give room for further interaction and dialogue, with all stakeholders in the building industry.
REDAN also made a case that the increment will have a ripple effect on the cost of land as other professionals involved in the real estate business such as lawyers, architects, engineers, and town planners will also increase the cost of their own services, which will all be borne by the end users. “It will also rubbish the efforts of government towards achieving affordable housing.”
REDAN therefore appealed to the surveyors to convey a meeting of all stakeholders in order to discuss and agree on the best modality for any review of professional fees in land related matters.
Adegboruwa however warned that REDAN will challenge the proposed increment in court, should the surveyors insist on implementing the policy as stated.The letter read: “Our clients consider it improper to increase the cost of survey plans at this time of economic recession, especially considering the ripple effect that such a step may have on other stakeholders within the built industry, such as architects, engineers and lawyers, etc, who are also members of their association.
“The planned increment will also impact negatively on the policy of affordable housing being promoted by the present administration at all levels. Our clients have also consulted the various statutes regulating this matter and they are yet to be convinced of the legal basis of this increment at this time.
Consequently, we have our clients’ instructions to request you to kindly prevail on your organisation and its members to suspend the implementation of this policy and to allow for further interactions, dialogue and discussions, between all the relevant stakeholders in the real estate business.
“ In compliance with statutory requirement to explore alternative dispute resolution mechanism, kindly indicate to us in writing within five clear days of your receipt of this letter, of your kind disposition towards the meeting suggested herein, failing which we have our clients’ further instructions to take out a writ of summons in court to determine the legality of such increment, to take out an order of injunction to restrain the implementation thereof and to determine other ancillary legal issues,” they added.
The Guardian learnt that the new increase is supposed to be approved by the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), but the NIS and SURCON have been in a showdown over allegation and counter allegation bothering on induction of new members.Recently, the Surveyor General of the Federation, Prof Peter Nwilo accused the NIS President of trying to create a serious division in the profession of surveying.
Nwilo referred to the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, CAP 425 adding that according to the law, even the minister can give instructions of general nature. The profession of Surveying is regulated by the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), set up and empowered by CAP 425, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Efforts to get the NIS Lagos chairman, Mr. Alara Olugbenga comment proved abortive. The Executive Secretary of the national body, could not respond to several calls and emails on issues raised on the matter.