Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Monday launched the official Website for the State’s proposed Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme and Housing Arbitration Rules explaining that the Scheme is designed as a vehicle to make the dream of ownership of homes come true for all Lagos residents.
The website will serve as data base for all applicants to the Lagos Home Ownership Scheme, christened “Lagos HOMS”, from which they will download all needed information, including rules of prequalification as well as the Mortgage Calculator which will enable prospective applicants to calculate the quantum of their income that will go towards settling their mortgage payment.
In his address before the formal launch at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Ikeja, Governor Fashola also said as part of the Scheme’s policy, all disputes arising under the Scheme would be resolved by arbitration governed by the Lagos HOMS Housing Arbitration Rules.
According to the Governor, “The Scheme will provide equity funding on the platform of mortgage financing for the purchase of homes, whereby applicants will become proud owners of their own homes upon the payment of an equity contribution not exceeding 30 percent of the price of the housing unit with the balance payable over a period of 10 to 20 years”.
Explaining that the Scheme is primarily designed for “First Time Buyers” (FTBs), which stands for applicants entering into the home ownership market for the first time, Governor Fashola further explained that an applicant would be required to provide a sworn buyer’s affidavit attesting that he/she does not own a property anywhere within the territory of Lagos State, proof of employment, residency in Lagos State and evidence of tax payment.
“Any false deposition in the buyer’s affidavit will be a ground for re-possession and this will be without prejudice to other criminal sanctions that may be imposed by law”, the Governor further explained.
Other requirements, according to the Governor, include the execution of a Contract of Sale and a Deed of Mortgage by the applicant, two documents, which he said, would govern the transaction and set out the rights and obligations of the parties adding, “these have been captured in the Lagos HOMS policy document which will be available at a formal launch of the Scheme in the next few weeks”.
“The Lagos Home Ownership Scheme will be launched with the pool of housing stock presently available to the Lagos State Government. More housing units will be offered for sale under the Scheme as they are completed”, Governor Fashola said, adding that the Government has designed a structure whereby it would collaborate with named partner banks for the provision of funds to support applicants in the acquisition of homes as well as the management of the pre-qualification procedures.
The Governor said the launch of the Scheme’s website and Housing Arbitration Rules constitute “the first in a series of events that will lead to flagship formal launch of Lagos HOMS in a short while”, adding, “Between now and then, the website will be uploaded with all the necessary information to help prospective buyers under the Scheme make an informed choice”.
“By the date of the formal launch of Lagos HOMS, applicants will have the choice of downloading all the forms from the website and visit the partner banks only to submit completed documents”, the Governor said.
On the Housing Arbitration Rules, Governor Fashola, who noted that Rules have been passed by the Board of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, said they would assist “in the resolution of the very foreseeable disagreements that are a permanent feature of human endeavour and commercial transactions”.
Recalling the recently passed Tenancy Law which, according to him, “has some revolutionary provisions that dispensed with many technicalities that make the recovery of premises from defiant and defaulting tenants extremely difficult”, Governor Fashola declared, “The damage that these archaic technical provisions did to our economy and in particular to compound the already challenging problems of housing was unquantifiable”.
“It was a major disincentive to housing investors who overtime found other investments for their money instead of housing provision. It was also the reason why some landlords resorted to mitigating their recovery risks by demanding multiple years’ rent in advance. And, of course, it added to congestion in the courts”, Governor Fashola said, adding that this informed the decision of his administration to provide an alternative platform for recovery of premises “delivered by Government through the Lagos HOMS policy”.
He said the cost or arbitration would be limited to two percent of the purchase price of the property and would be shared equally between the parties adding that in order to save cost, arbitration would be conducted by a single arbitrator “and in cases where it is appropriate, by the submission of documents only”.
According to the Governor, the preference of his administration for arbitration as sole means of resolving disputes under the Scheme was not a “vote of no confidence” in the courts but the acknowledgement of the fact that not all disputes need end up in court, particularly those that can easily be lawfully resolved in other ways, adding, “I am convinced that the operation of these rules will bring about the comfort and confidence that will inspire Lagosians to sign up for the Scheme when launched”.
Earlier, in his introductory remarks, Chairman of the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme Committee and immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State, Mr. Olasupo Shasore (SAN), said the Committee was ready to work hard to ensure the success of the Scheme.
The Chairman, who expressed appreciation to the Governor for the opportunity given the Committee to serve the State, said it was an opportunity to operate a Scheme which, according to him, is the first of its kind in the history of Housing in Nigeria.
Also present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje and his Environment, Transportation and Budget and Economic Planning counterparts, Mr. Tunji Bello, Mr. Kayode Opeifa and Mr. Ben Akabueze, among other members of the State Executive Council, President of Lagos Court of Arbitration, Mr. Babajide Ogundipe, other members of the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme Committee as well as top government functionaries.