House Hunting in Naija
When you are ‘hunting’ for an apartment in naija, its a whole five unit course. You go through all sorts of screening and assessments that beats a job interview. Some landlords ask all sort of questions and may even request some information about your great great ancestors.
I was inspired to put up this post when my friend Balogun(who has no chieftaincy title to his name though) sent me some memes.
One was about an advert for a house letting which states that only Yoruba couples are preferred. Then I remembered all my experiences while house hunting too. But I don’t think this discrimination or preference is common to Nigerians alone.
I read Buchi Emecheta’s (author of joys of motherhood) autobiography where she revealed some of her ordeals with a Yoruba landlord. She got the house by pretending to be a yoruba woman because she had grown up in lagos and could speak the language fairly.They later became family friends though.
When you are house hunting as a single, get ready for the worst. Most landlords don’t want to rent out their houses to a single lady especially. Years back when I was in Lagos, landlady had shown me pepper initially because she thought I was going to snatch her big pot bellied husband. A man that cannot even buy me a house in banana island if to say I wan do iranu on a full-scale.
If you are house hunting in abuja, its a different ball game. Landlord would almost ask you how much your salary is.
The following conversation had ensued between me and a landlord:
Landlord: hello, how are you? You are the one renting my house? His eyes flips over my slim physique while he quickly stare at the piece of info on the form I filled.( He later told me he had to quickly check my age.)
Me: yes sir
Landlord : where do you work?
Me: XYZ firm
Landlord: what do you do there?
How long have you been working there?
Why are you renting a house on your own?
What about your parents?
The question about place of work is mostly asked in order to make sure that you are capable of paying your own rent after the initial payment.
Scenario two(not me) :which borders on religion
Landlord: are you a christian or Muslim?
Potential tenant: christian
Landlord: which denomination is your own?
Potential tenant:( mentions it)
Landlord: OK, that’s a huge relief. Its not like those overzealous Christians who would hold vigils in the house.
Are you renting it alone or moving in with someone?
I hope you know I only accept full payment
Landlord: which religion do you practise?
Potential tenant: Islam
Lanlord: Good. Because I don’t want those Christians and their problems in my compound. You know how they sing, clap and pray loudly? I don’t want such nonsense in my compound.
Scenario four: Married couple
Landlord: How long have you been married
Couple:( rolls eye and look at each other). Not quite long.
Landlord: that means you don’t have little kids that will be making noise in the compound.
Which state are you from?
Landlord: That’s good because I don’t rent out my house to ibos. They are too stubborn and always cause trouble for other tenants.
So, tell me, who says there is unity in diversity again? When we discriminate based on religion, state of origin, marital status and social class, why do we blame america for racism? We cannot even tolerate our own skin colour to start with.
House hunting is a whole adventure on its own and those discriminations aren’t going anywhere. Now, we are used to it.