SAM_3106Lawyers have called for a new legal framework to enhance the mortgage system for more tenants to become landlords.

According to them, the existing arrangement does not encourage financial institutions to grant mortgage loans.

They spoke in Lagos at the Legal Business Summit organised by the law firm of Olisa Agbakoba and Associates and BusinessDay newspaper.

The theme of the summit is: “Waking up dead capital: the intersection between Law and Economic Development.”

A former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said there must be a conducive legal and institutional framework for the economy to growth.

According to him, there can be housing for all if the laws provide for its affordability, with the government guaranteeing it.

To him, if most Nigerians can afford to pay their rent, then they should be able to finance a mortgage loan.

“The only difference is that as a tenant, you will continue being one, but in a mortgage, you are a tenant, but you become an owner,” he said.

Agbakoba said the laws should be made to allow more people access to mortgages.

“This seminar is looking for ways to push the barrier away so that we can unlock the dead capital. If the dead capital comes up, it will be distributed with guarantees that you can pay.

“It is part of government responsibility to guarantee mortgage for the people. I want to hear what the political parties will be saying in 2015 about how they intend to unlock dead capital.

“A government that needs your vote should be able to guarantee you access to a mortgage facility and hope you don’t default,” he said.

A discussant, Mr Osaro Eghobamien (SAN), said the courts could also deal with the issue of foreclosure by pre-emptive remedies.

He added: “If non performing assets are sold out as bad debts, then I think it is also appropriate to set up an institution to purchase performing assets in a bid to expand the country’s economy.”

Eghobamien called for a legal framework that will encourage a bank to give individuals mortgage loans.

The Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), he noted, is a secondary mortgage liquidity facility that lends to primary mortgage institutions, who then lend to the borrower.

“They don’t lend and they do not interact with the borrowers on the street. What we are trying to achieve now is if you are paying a rent, at a point that property should be yours.

“If everything is put in place including the law, why would anyone pay rent for that long and the property is not converted to his?” Osaro asked.

A participant, Rufus Olanrewaju, said if the laws are reviewed to address the mortgage challenges, more people would be able to own houses.

The Delta State University Business Law lecturer also said land should be liberalised so that everyone can have access.

Other speakers included NMRC director, Mr Sonnie Ayere; Africapitalism Institute director, Mr David Rice; Access Bank Plc Group Managing Director, Mr Herbert Wigwe and Special Assistant on Taxation and Revenue to Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Mr Shola Banjo among others.