Adamu Kasimu is the Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), FCT chapter. In this interview he explains how the FCT Administration (FCTA) could utilise its land resource through ground rent collection to generate additional
How can you allay the fear of Abuja residents over the impending tenement rate collection
There is nothing to fear: it is a statutory responsibility of every property owner or user to pay rent where such law exists; and it does in the FCT.
Can you give us an idea on the rates.
The law establishing tenement rate in Abuja stipulates that the rate is based on the gross annual value of a property: it is four per cent or four kobo to the naira of the assessed value.
Let’s say in Asokoro District, how much would the tenement rate be for a four-bedroom bungalow?
The rental value of a four-bedroom bungalow in Asokoro may not exceed N2.5m to N3m per annum, while in Kubwa, a similar property may be N600, 000 or N700, 000 per annum, depending on the location.
Who would be liable, is it the owner or the tenant?
The law states that it is an occupier’s liability; so if it is the landlord that is residing in his property, the incidence of the rate is on him or her. If it is a tenant, then the incidence is on that tenant.
However, government-owned property, religious property, diplomatic institutions, etc. are exempted, and the minister may by order exempt any property.
We have instances where houses are occupied by both tenants and landlords.
That is why AMAC recently concluded a general assessment recently. You find that in one building it is possible that three or four households, but will individually pay same or different charges depending on the annual value of the property they individually occupy.
So if a landlord occupies a part of the property, he pays for that part. However, it is not a general rule. If there is a contract agreement that mandates the landlord to be responsible for the payment of tenement, so shall it be.
Is it annually and can tenants or occupiers pay in installments?
It is an annual payment, and it is because of the economic situation in the country that AMAC recently approved 50 per cent discount to anybody in residential dwelling willing to pay his or her rent between now and November.
Is there going to be penalty for those who refuse to pay?
The law says you should serve a notice of assessment, then a demand notice, after that if you fail to pay you will be given a reminder, if you still fail to pay AMAC takes you to court. The court in its own wisdom will not just send you to prison but will oblige you to pay by a certain date. If you fail, that is when the same court may give an order empowering AMAC to seal the property.
Is the urban and regional tribunal still functional in the FCT?
It is functional: it is just that people are not aware of its functions. But tenement rate is not a tribunal issue. The law that established tenement rate gives an aggrieved party the opportunity for redress within the rating administration framework. AMAC has registered all valuations carried out by our members in the FCT Upper Area Court as required by the law, so the best one can do is to go through the area court system and get redress, even though they are using magistrates’ courts for enforcement. So what should be done? The process could be strengthened through the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) or the FCTA may need to revive the old system and set up what is called Ground Rent Management Office to collate all necessary information about land titles created in the FCT and collect all revenues that are due to FCT every year just like what AMAC is now doing in relation to tenement rate.
Will this not be multiple taxation of the average property owner?
Ground rent is not a tax. Remember, you are allocated land subject to conditions including payment of ground rent. So by the spirit of the Land Use Act, nobody owns land in Nigeria.
As estate surveyors conducted the assessment, what was the response from property owners?
I can confirm to you that the acceptance was encouraging, people were willing to submit their property for assessment, some felt they were initially overcharged so after the valuation the figures were displayed, and some people lodged grievances and their complaints were attended to by AMAC.
Alhaji Adamu Kasimu