Usually, from the first day of January of every year, I begin to look out for the land use charge bill on the property that I occupy. I have an expected figure in mind and I try to take advantage of the early bird discount. This year, I had the same expectations in mind until a message posted in my Apapa community group woke me up to the fact that Lagos State had passed a new Land Use Charge Law, and the effect of the law was an astronomical increase in the charges. The law has been widely analysed and it is safe to say that it has not been well-received, at least not by anyone I know who has received their bill from the State Government.
Last week, I received a bill from the State which represents a 660 per cent increase on the amount of the previous bill for the same property. Although the copy of the law that I have does not state a commencement date for the law, it is obvious to those who have received a bill that the law commenced with immediate effect.
The law provides a formula for determining the land use charge on a property which takes into consideration the area of the land; the market value of the land; the average construction value of medium quality buildings in the neighbourhood; the depreciation rate; the rate of relief (where applicable); and the charge rate. I have read analyses that report that the formula was developed to bring more certainty to the charge on properties liable to pay the land use charge. That would be a laudable objective but of what use is this certainty to a person who cannot afford to pay the charge? The law also provides in Section 10 (2) that the market value of a property will be reviewed every five years and the land value and building value rates may be in line with the rate of inflation. How this all translates in a neighbourhood like Apapa that has seen property values drop and occupancy rates increase due to the neglect of government is best left for discussion on another day. Read more