My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 25-year-old software engineer who rented an apartment that costs millions in maintenance. He tells us the challenges of living in the apartment and gives a cost breakdown of fixing things.
Could you tell me your money mistake?
In October 2020, I wanted to expand my space and increase my overall productivity (and cash flow) by moving to a bigger house in a serene environment. After checking so many apartments, I found one in an estate in Ajah. It turned out to top the list of my worst investments.
The estate management made so many promises. When I asked why something wasn’t running, they’d say that the estate is still new and they are fixing it as they go. Well, things still don’t work. It’s from one problem to another. It’s either the transformer has spoilt or the borehole engines are “temporarily” non-functional.
Has it been this way since you moved in?
In the beginning, we had a decent power supply. Then came the promises.
What kind of promises?
On arrival at the estate, I was informed that tenants won’t be allowed to use their generators when they install their backup generator. They claimed to be working with a short timeline for the generator installation and made a lot of noise about it. Three months in, no generator.
Did they say why?
They never intended to do it. These people allowed my roof to leak for eight months before they sent someone to fix it. They are very unserious! The taps don’t run anymore. My housekeeper has to go down three floors to fetch water. A lot of things are wrong with this apartment.
Could you list the things that went wrong with the house and the cost of fixing or creating an alternative for them?
Power is my biggest problem. We have long periods without electricity because the transformer is always blowing up. I have to find ways to get light when this happens. Sometimes I go to hotels and spend up to a month. That’s like ₦600,000.
I also had to buy a REALLY big generator that can support the appliances in my house. The generator costs about ₦450,000. Maintaining the generator and fueling costs ₦12,000 every two days.
Then I had to get an inverter with solar panels that cost ₦1.5m
That’s a lot of money for an inverter.
Yes. At first, I installed eight, but they weren’t charging the inverter to its fullest on days when there was no light, so I added four extra panels. With 12 panels, I had a backup power supply. That was before the transformer got bad again and we had to provide light for ourselves full time. From when I last renewed the rent till date, the light situation has not gotten better. I’ve just been incurring unnecessary expenses from living in this apartment.
How much is the rent plus the service charge?
Rent is ₦1.5 million, service charge is ₦300k, but so far, I’ve spent three times that to maintain the apartment.
Did you try to speak to management about this?
Yes. Several times. Always one excuse or the other. That should have been my first red flag.
How has living in this apartment affected your life?
I’m never comfortable. My work is remote, so I spend 90% of my time at home, but it’s always so hot and I can’t run my AC. Imagine having an air conditioner in every room, but you can’t turn them on because there is no light. The generator sometimes powers the AC in my room, but I try not to overwork it.
There are days I won’t have water and I can’t take my bath or use the toilet. I’m spending so much money and energy trying to fix problems I should have never had in the first place. There is no justification for spending millions on rent and yet they can’t provide power or water.
When are you moving out?
Before the year ends. I’ve been house hunting and I’ll tell you for free that the real estate market in Lagos is absurd. The prices are not justifiable for the space. I’ve had to make it clear to my agent that I don’t want a place that floods and doesn’t have backup power. I’ve been searching for months because I don’t want to rent an apartment worse than this.
I hope to get a house in a better environment. I mean, a place where PHCN respects the residents of the estate and shows up when things are bad. My current estate has written letters and petitioned them countless times, and we’ve been ignored.
What’s your biggest lesson from this experience?
I don’t trust estate managers until they deliver on their promises. I’m learning to do deeper investigations before moving into houses, although this can be difficult when it’s a new estate. I see now that my mistake was moving in based on promises.