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Opinions of Saturday, 29 August 2020

Columnist: Vera Chidi-Maha

What do landlords have against single ladies?

A childhood friend of mine, Taiwo, is currently having huge accommodation issues. Not because she cannot afford to get any place of her choice, but because the selfish, self-conceited, self-centered landlords we have in this part of the world are giving her a particular condition that she must meet before becoming their tenant.

The condition she has been given is not financial. Taiwo, being a big girl in her own rights, can financially afford any apartment of her choice. The condition is that she must produce a husband.

What on earth is the meaning of that? That a lady must be married before she can have a decent accommodation of her choice? Oh; so if there is no man or stable man in her life because we still have very unstable men around. The type that will date you for years, yet refuse to the knots with you. She should remain homeless? Or worse still, she should become a squatter in some friend’s apartment even though she can afford to have her own place?

Inasmuch as landlords should have the sole decision who their tenants should be, it is important that there should be laws checking things like this. The reason is that Taiwo is not alone in this. There are thousands of ladies out there who find themselves imaginary husbands. Some present their elder brothers, friends or even co-workers to act as their husbands just to enable them get accommodation.

The reason, according to a landlord I had a chat with, is that single ladies are dangerous to accommodate. They bring into the compound all sorts of men and there is the danger of bringing in armed robbers to the house.

A married woman, according to him, is more responsible. Her husband is there to keep a tab on her, but the single ladies are not held liable by anybody. She can leave the house when she likes and even take off for days on end without having to explain her movement to anybody which is not good. What if, God forbid, anything bad happens to her?

“What if she is kidnapped or something terrible happens, the police will naturally choose to harass the landlord. These and many more reasons are why I cannot give my apartment to any single lady, rich or poor,” he concluded.

In my opinion, the reasons given above are petty. How come houses are rented to our male counterparts without conditions? Is it a crime even in this computer age for one to be a woman? Or worse still, a single woman? Should woman now begin to force marriages on themselves in order to get a decent apartment?

I recall a recent incident that occurred in one of the outskirts of Lagos, when a lady was relocated by her office to resume at their Lagos office with immediate effect. Lagos, for her, was a new terrain, so she needed a chaperone to show her around the metropolis. Top on her to-do list was getting a decent accommodation for herself at least that would enable her find feet before looking at other factors.

Fine, the finance was made available by her company. So, it was not a problem of how much the rent was going to be, it was rather a question of where she chose to reside.

Unfortunately for her, the agents she contacted to help out with the accommodation told her conditions that she might face with the landlord. She was told that she had to look for a man at all costs and present him as her husband. It was only on those terms that she would be listened.

Another landlord gave an instance of when he gave accommodation to a single lady, recalling that time with bitterness. He said the lady on a number of occasions invited more than one man at a time and they ended up fighting each other. It did not stop there. It went further to become a police case and the scandal that followed was worse than imagined.

Initially, she ignored the counsel of the agents until she continually met brickwall with the landlords. When she got tired of squatting from one friend’s place to the other, she had no choice but to present her chaperone as her husband. She now has a decent place she lives in under the guise that she is a married woman.

I feel it is criminally wrong for things like this to still be happening. I feel that there should be a law in place to guide against things like this.

I know of so many single ladies today in Lagos who have come up with imaginary husbands, just so that the landlord will see them as ‘responsible’.

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