Where there is no law, there is no sin. So also, ignorance of the law is no excuse. How well do you know the law? Did you know that there are some laws guiding the recovery of residential premises from tenants in Lagos state? Before a landlord or property owner can recover residential premises from tenants in Lagos state, there must be a sample notice of owner’s intention to recover possession issued to the tenant. However, this only applies to when the tenant fails to vacate the property after a notice to quit was issued.
Just as it is important for tenants to know their rights when issues as this pop-up, landlords must also be aware of the lawful manner to approach recovering residential premises from their tenants. This way, it can be a win-win situation for the two parties involved.
For tenants who have to deal with difficult landlords, knowing their rights and the Tenancy Law better helps them. Some landlords have been known to outsmart their tenants by demanding rent in excess of one year from a yearly rent, but these are the gullible ones though.
Provisions of the Law
Every state has its own laws for the recovery of residential premises from tenants. The main statutes governing that of Lagos are seen in the Rent Control and Recovery of residential premises law Vol. 7, Laws of Lagos state and the Lagos Tenancy Law, 2011.
The Lagos tenancy law was created to regulate and safeguard the activities of both landlord and tenants. The law frowns upon what it perceives to be unjust actions by a landlord who takes steps to ‘get rid’ of his tenant without following the required procedures. It is advisable for all landlords to secure the services of a lawyer or real estate agent who will explain the position of the Law to them; particularly the procedures that pertain to the proper eviction of the tenant within the confines of the law.
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You should know that there are different types of tenancy and as such there are different ways of terminating each type of tenancy.
Section 8 of the recovery of premises act. cap 544 of the laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 provides that notice is given in this manner:
- For a weekly tenancy, the landlord must give a week’s notice.
- For a monthly tenancy, a month’s tenancy is adequate.
- For a quarterly tenancy, a quarter’s notice is given and
- a yearly tenancy requires half a year’s notice (six months’ notice).
Let’s look at recovering of premises that have to do with marriage dissolution. For example, a married couple having a right as part-owners of residential premises and the marriage heads for the rock. So, who owns the property here and how can it be recovered? This can be quite tricky. This type of situation falls under the Tenancy at will. Tenancy at will is very much different from regular tenancy. A tenancy at will was built into the mutual understanding in the rental agreement that both the tenant and the landlord can terminate the tenancy when any of them likes or at any time convenient to any of them.
In this scenario, if after issuing an adequate notice to quit and the tenant fails to hand over possession upon expiration of this notice, the landlord or agent can then issue a 7-day notice of the owner’s intention to recover possession.
Provisions of the Rent Control and Recovery of Premises Law of Lagos state provides that the required length of notice necessary to determine a tenancy at will is seven days. The most important aspect of this notice is the number of days. As stipulated, seven days: nothing short of seven days will suffice. It does not matter which form or format the notice takes. It is, however, important that the tenant knows that the landlord wants to repossess his premises after 7 days. This 7-day notice to quit is enough for any peace-loving human being. However, when the tenant fails to quit, the landlord will thereafter apply to the court of his intention to repossess his house.
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Validity of Notice
A sample notice to quit can be issued by the landlord, agent or lawyer who must be authorised in writing, to the tenant upon the expiration of the tenancy or the effluxion of time. The Notice to quit must contain the following;
- The name of the landlord or authorised agent;
- The name of the tenant;
- The description of the residential premises or property type;
- The type of tenancy;
- The period within which the tenant must quit and deliver up possession of premises. The exact date on which the possession must be given up must be stated.
Notice of owner’s intention to recover possession is usually issued at the expiration of the tenancy as specified in the notice to quit and the tenant fails to refuse to quit and deliver up possession of the premises to the landlord. It is usually issued with seven clear days given to the tenant to give up possession. This notice cannot be issued to the tenant until the expiration of the Notice to Quit. This notice must contain;
- the name of the owner;
- name of the occupant;
- description of the owner’s premises and;
- reference to notice to quit.
Please note that the notices must be served personally on the Tenant, or delivered to an adult at the premises. Where the Tenant cannot be found, it may also be delivered to the premises by courier where the Tenant cannot be found, provided that the courier supplies proof of delivery. Very key – Make sure you get a response or a read receipt that will prove that the tenant received the notice.
Breach of Tenancy Agreements and What to do
You have built and rented your house for nearly three decades and you have never sent anyone packing from your residential premises. Fortunately for you, a bubbly and religious young man rents one of your apartments. He has been making peaceful living hell for the other tenants who have threatened to quit should the situation continue. If after exhausting all means of resolving this issue with this difficult tenant and there is no change, the landlord can file a claim to recover the possession at either the Magistrate Court or the High Court closest to the premises. The landlord must be able to prove the grounds that the conduct of the Tenant constitutes an intolerable nuisance.
What if the tenant decides to lock up and leave the premises without notifying the landlord of his exit and whereabouts? The landlord cannot resort to self-help by force opening the premises without a court order.
Under the Tenancy Law of Lagos State, 2011, such premises are referred to abandoned premises. Following Section 15 subsection (2), the landlord shall issue a seven (7) days’ notice of the landlord’s intention to recover possession as described in Form TLA, which shall be served by posting the notice on the abandoned premises and also apply to the Court for an order for possession and order to force open the premises.
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Complications and Remedies
If a landlord or property owner attempts unlawful procedures to recover a residential premise, it will only lead to frustration and delays in the recovery period. Sometimes, agents may even collude with the talents to frustrate the landlord. It is also important for the landlord to keep a proper and up-to-date record of correspondence and notices given to the tenant. Corruption is not left out as some corrupt registrars may intentionally misplace court documents in a bid to stall justice from being served. In the ghetto areas of Lagos, it’s been recorded that some tenants use police or thugs to harass their landlords. Other times the tenants may be absent from court proceedings thereby leading to unnecessary court adjournments. Instituting civil proceedings by contacting a solicitor and employing the help of Citizens Mediation Centre can help landlords remedy some of these challenges faced in recovering residential premises from tenants in Lagos state.