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The Legal Rights of the Lagos Tenant

“Ah! Mogbe! Aren’t these my things outside? Thrown with reckless abandon? Ah! What is going on here?” Tobi exclaimed as he came back from work only to meet his properties outside. “So Baba Landlord has lived up to his reputation as a very cruel man. All I did was stand up to him about the sudden and unfair increase in rent. I only just aired my opinions pere!. This is not right now. I do not owe any rent. Why would he do this? Tobi lamented to Mama Siri, his nosey neighbour who kept making the ‘hmmm’ and ‘eeyasounds. He really could care less at the moment. For the love of God his door was padlocked and windows shut airtight. It is 7 pm, What really was he going to do?

Many Lagosians are not new to the above situation. It may not have played out script by script like Tobi’s dilemma, but it for sure gives a familiar vibe to a lot of Lagosians. The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Lagos is one of the most controversial relationships in life. It is most often than none filled with issues, conflicts, and disputes and are often not amicably resolved even where attempts are made to resolve them.

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It is not uncommon for a landlord to wake up one day and decide he wants a tenant out of his house. This happens most time out of spite, dislike, the need for his property urgently or because he simply has a better offer. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter. In this parts, the landlord reigns supreme with his tenants at his mercy. In a situation wherein the tenants fail to comply with the wishes of the landlord, a forced eviction may be meted on him or her.

The tenant could be forcibly removed from his or her apartment with his or her things thrown out and sometimes, the tenant’s property could be removed from the apartment in his or her absence (like Tobi). Some landlords now see this act of illegality as normal. However, this infamous pattern of events frowned at by the law.

The Landlord, Tenant relationship is guided by the Law with both parties having their cover or protection against any inappropriate behaviour of the other party in the Law. Whether it is a lease, rental accommodation, cooperative housing or emergency housing, all occupants are entitled to a measure of security of tenure which guarantees an equal protection against intimidation, harassment, threats and forced eviction without the due process of the Law. This means that no landlord, whether individual or a corporate organisation, has the right to take matters into their hands by ejecting a tenant without observing the due process of the Law.

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ALSO READ: See How a Nigerian Landlord Dealt with his Tenant

As a tenant, it is your right by Law to receive adequate notice before ejection by your landlord. Your landlord cannot come in the morning and ask you to leave the premises by evening if he has not served the appropriate and due notice. Lawfully, a notice to quit is what puts an end to the terms created by a tenancy and this is usually stated in the tenancy agreement. However, if it is not expressly stated, a weekly tenancy is terminated by a week’s notice, a monthly tenancy is terminated by a month’s notice, a quarterly notice is given to terminate a quarterly tenancy and a yearly tenancy is terminated by six months notice.

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It is important to read the tenancy agreement of a new apartment carefully before signing as the Law honours the agreement between parties and you are bound by it. Some tenancy agreements have shorter or longer notices. Some even state that notices will not be given in the case where the landlord wishes to eject the tenant making it imperative for you to critically examine the tenancy agreement before signing.

In the case where the landlord takes you to court as a tenant, the court cannot eject you without hearing from you. This is because the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that all person(s) in the country have certain undeniable rights which include the Right to a fair hearing. As a tenant, you also have the right to sue your landlord if he does not follow the due process of the law and forcibly throws you out.

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