Guess who finally found a house?
The last few months have been very tiring and frustrating for me in my search for a new apartment. I met over 100 agents and was taken around the whole of Lagos (literally) where I saw like 1000 houses.
I may be exaggerating a bit here but I am sure you get the general picture of the frustration one goes through when looking for a new accommodation in this city. These Lagos agents and landlords are something else. It seems like they have a Whatsapp group where they discuss tips on how to swindle people on such things like ‘agency fee’, ‘search fee’, and ‘mobilization fee,’ but that wasn’t the hardest part of the house hunt.
It was the condescension of house owners that hurt the most. I remember falling in love with one of the houses I saw. Everything was perfect; it was like a dream and I was so excited until it was time to meet the landlord.
To be fair to the agent, he did warn me that the landlord didn’t like renting his house to single women. I asked him why and he just said, “You know now; girls wey never marry dey do ashawo.”
I just sighed as I didn’t have the strength to deal with him. However, I asked him to go ahead and fix a meeting with the landlord. I thought if the landlord could see me and we have a small conversation, he would know I wasn’t about that life. I went with my work ID card and we had a civil conversation.
I had no reason to think he will turn me down after that. But to my surprise, the landlord still refused to rent the apartment to me. According to him, even girls who have jobs still do ‘ashawo’ on the side because they are not married.
I won’t even pretend; I was so, so upset afterward. A burning anger swept through me and I ranted to everybody I could call. When the anger had cleared, I told myself ‘Nto’gi’. I knew I shouldn’t have gone for the humiliating ‘interview’ in the first place. My intuition had warned me not to but did I listen? No, I was focused on the fine house I saw, so I decided to ignore all the red flags.
Any man who has no respect for women, no matter what their profession is, is not someone I want to associate with. If he disrespects some women because of their profession, the chances that he will disrespect you and your Ph.D. is very high. What this house hunting thing reminded me of is that in this Lagos, men will find every opportunity to insult a woman. Well, most men, to put it mildly!
If it wasn’t the ones who said they wouldn’t rent to me because of my marital status, it was the ones who asked me who was going to pay my house rent. There was one who gave me his account details, and asked: “so, who and who should I be expecting the rent from?”
The thing is if the men doing these things were in their late 50s, or 60s, I would understand because they are from a different era. But these guys were mostly youngish – mid 30s, early 40s men. So it wasn’t about knowing different, it was just an opportunity to be condescending to a woman.
I asked one of the agents if unmarried boys go through anything similar when they want to rent houses and he gave a small laugh and just said ‘how’? I am consoled by the fact that the next generation of women won’t experience things like this in Nigeria mostly because, by then, more women will own homes too.
Anyway, I was so excited when I finally found a place I liked. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I threw in a little colour and décor and what’s more? The owner of the house is a young man in his early 40s and he has no qualms with me or the work I do.
He didn’t even ask me where I come from or my tribe; we just talked, signed agreements and voila, I have the keys to my new apartment. Phew, till next time.