Lagos Tenancy Law…Knowing Your Rights!

Lagos Tenancy Law…Knowing Your Rights!

The Lagos State Tenancy Law was formerly known as Rent control and recovery of residential premises law vol.7 laws of Lagos State 2003. The law clearly defines the relationship between Landlords and tenants in Lagos. Landlord-tenant law governs the rental of property. The basis of the legal relationship between a landlord and tenant is derived from both contract and property law. Some major aspects of the Lagos state Tenancy Law are; Lagos state tenancy law on quit notice, Lagos state tenancy law on the increment of rent and recovery of premises law of Lagos state. These laws affect Lagosians in many ways than one.

The Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 does not apply to residential premises owned or operated by an educational institution for its staff and students; this would include boarding houses, hostels, university staff quarters etc.

2.
The Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 does not apply to residential premises provided for emergency shelter; in a care or hospice facility; in a public or private hospital or a mental health facility: and those made available in the course of providing rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment.

3.
The Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 does not apply to premises in Apapa, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi, and Victoria Island.

4.
The Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 states that if you are a sitting tenant at a property, it is illegal for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive for rent in excess of 6 months for a monthly tenant, or 1 year from a yearly tenant. It is also unlawful for the sitting tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of 1 year for a yearly tenant and 6 months for a monthly tenant. The penalty for both landlord and tenant involved in such an arrangement is a fine of N100,000 or to 3 months imprisonment.

5.
The Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 provides that it is unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a new or prospective tenant, rent in excess of 1 year in respect of any premises; it is also unlawful for the new or prospective tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of 1 year. The penalty for both landlord and tenant involved in such an arrangement is a fine of N100,000 or to 3 months imprisonment.

6.
As a tenant of a property, if you get your landlord’s consent in writing to make some improvements on the premises, and the landlord ends the tenancy. You are entitled to claim compensation/reimbursement for the improvements that you made when you are quitting the premises.

7.
Your landlord cannot under any circumstances seize any item or property of yours as a tenant or interfere with your access to your personal property.

8.
If you live in a property that includes payments for a service charge, as a tenant, the landlord or his agent is to issue you with a separate receipt; and you are entitled to a written account at least every 6 months from the Landlord of how monies that you paid were disbursed.

9.
Where your tenancy agreement does not stipulate your notice period, the Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 provides that the notice period to be applied is thus:

1 week’s notice for a tenant at will;
1 month’s notice for a monthly tenant;
3 months notice for a quarterly tenant and a half-yearly tenant; and
6 months notice for a yearly tenant

10.
If your landlord, in trying to eject you as a tenant from the property, demolishes or alters the building without court approval; or threatens or molests you, or attempts to remove you by force from the property, the landlord is committing an offense and is guilty if convicted to a fine of N250,000 or a maximum of 6 months imprisonment.

As a tenant, you are entitled to request from your landlord that you have a written tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is an important document because it basically outlines the terms of your tenancy in the property, in fact, one could argue that this is the most important right of every tenant. Landlords can refuse to issue a tenancy agreement, but if your landlord does not give you one, then you should be very wary. In tenancy agreements of over 3 years, it is mandatory that the agreement is in writing.

Unfortunately, even when the landlord issues a tenancy agreement, most tenants just sign the documents without reviewing it properly. Ideally, this agreement should be reviewed by a legal expert.

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF LANDLORD AND TENANT
Rights of the parties
(1) The tenant’s entitlement to quiet and peaceable enjoyment includes the right to:
(a) reasonable privacy;
(b) freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
(c) Exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlords restricted right of inspection and
(d) the use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes.
(2) Where a tenant with the previous consent in writing of the landlord, effects improvements on the premises and the landlord determine the tenancy, such a tenancy shall be entitled to claim compensation for the effect improvements on quitting the premise.

Obligations of the Tenant
Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, the tenant shall be obliged to do the following:
(1) Pay the rents at the times and in the manner stated.
(2) Pay all existing and future rates and charges not applicable to the landlord by law.
(3) Keep the premises in good and tenantable repair, reasonable wear and tear excepted.
(4) Permit the landlord and his agents during the tenancy at all reasonable hours in the daytime by written notice, to view the condition of the premises and to effect repairs in necessary parts of the building.
(5) Not to make any alterations or additions to the premises without the written consent of the landlord.
(6) Not to assign or sublet any part of the premises without the written consent of the landlord.
(7) Notify the landlord where structural or substantial damage has occurred to any part of the premises as soon as practicable.

Obligations of the Landlord

Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, the landlord shall be obliged to do the following:
(1) Not to disturb the tenants quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the premises.
(2) Pay all rates and charges as stipulated by law.
(3) Keep the premises insured against loss or damage.
(4) Not to terminate or restrict a common facility or service for the use of the premises.
(5) Not to seize or interfere with the tenants access to his personal property.
(6) Effect repairs and maintain the external and common parts of the premises.

Obligations of landlord regarding business premises only
Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, a business premises agreement shall be taken to provide that where the landlord
(a) inhibits the access of the tenant to the premises in any substantial manner;
(b) takes any action that would substantially alter or inhibit the flow of the customers, clients or other persons using the tenants business premises;
(c) causes or fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent or remove any disruption to trading or use within the business premises which results in loss of profits to the tenant;
(d) fails to have rectified as soon as practicable, any breakdown of plant or equipment under his care and maintenance which results in loss of profits to the tenant; or
(e) fails to maintain or repaint the exterior or the common parts of the building or buildings of which the premises is comprised and after being given notice in writing by the tenant requiring him to rectify the matter, does not do so within such time as is reasonably practicable, the landlord, is liable to pay to the tenant such reasonable compensation as shall be determined by the Court, where the tenant effects the repairs or maintenance.

Service Charge, Facilities, and Security Deposits
In any case where the landlord or his agent may, in addition, to rent require the tenant or licensee to pay:
(a) a security deposit to cover damage and repairs to the premises;
(b) for services and facilities for the premises; or
(c) service charges in flats or units that retain common parts on the premises, the landlord or his agent shall issue a separate receipt to the tenant for payments received such tenant shall be entitled to a written account at least every six (6) months from the landlord of how money paid were disbursed.

  1. Provision for re-entry
    Subject to
    (a) any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties; and
    (b) the service of process in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Law, upon the breach or non-observance of any of the conditions or covenants in respect of the premises, the landlord shall have the right to institute proceedings for an order to re-enter and determine the tenancy.
  2. Length of Notice
    (1) Where there is no stipulation as to the notice to be given by either party to determine the tenancy, the following shall apply
    (a) weeks notice for a tenant at will;
    (b) one (1) months notice for a monthly tenant;
    (c ) three (3) months notice for a quarterly tenant;
    (d) three (3) months notice for a half-yearly tenant; and
    (e) six (6) months notice for a yearly tenant.
    (2) In the case of the monthly tenant, where he is in arrears of rent for three (3) months, the tenancy shall be determined and the Court shall make an order for possession and arrears of rent upon proof of the arrears by the landlord.

  3. (3) In the case of a quarterly or half-yearly tenant, where he is in arrears of rent for six (6) months, the tenancy shall be determined and the Court shall make an order for possession and arrears of rent upon proof of the arrears by the landlord.
    (4) Notice of tenants under subsection (1) ( ), (d) and (e) of this Section need not terminate on the anniversary of the tenancy but may terminate on or after the date of expiration of the tenancy.
    (5) In the case of a tenancy for a fixed term, no notice to quit shall be required once the tenancy has been determined by effluxion of time and where the landlord intends to proceed to Court to recover possession, he shall serve a seven (7) days written notice of his intention to apply to recover possession as in Form “TL4” in the Schedule of this Law.
    (6) The nature of a tenancy shall, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, be determined by reference to the time when the rent is paid or demanded.

Notice to Licensee
Where a person is a licensee and upon the expiration or withdrawal of his license, he refuses or neglects to give up possession he shall be entitled to service of a seven (7) days notice of the owners’ intention to apply to recover possession in the Schedule to this Law.

The notice required for abandoned premises
(1) Premises will be deemed to be abandoned where the
(a) tenancy has expired; and
(b) tenant has not occupied the premises since the tenancy expired and has not given up lawful possession of the premises.
(2) Following subsection (1) above, the landlord shall
(a) issue a seven (7) days notice of the landlords’ intention to recover possession, which shall be served by pasting the notice on the abandoned premises; and
(b) apply to the court for an order for possession and in order to force open the premises.

Tenant refusing or neglecting to give up possession
As soon as the term or interest of any premises has been determined by a written notice to quit as in Form A in the Schedule this Law and the tenant neglects or refuses to quit and deliver up possession of the premises or any part of it, the Landlord or his agent may cause the tenant to be served with written notice as in Form A, signed by the Landlord or his agent, of the landlords intention to proceed to recover possession, stating the grounds and particulars of the claim, on a date not less than seven (7) days from the date of the notice.

Service of Notices
(1) Notices referred to under Sections 12-15 of this Law shall be by proper service as prescribed under Section 17 and 18.
(2) Proper service shall be served in such a manner that it can be established to the satisfaction of the court that the person to be served will have knowledge of any of the notices.

Service of Notices for Residential Premises
Proper service on a tenant of residential premises shall be personal service, which includes but is not limited to the following
(a) service on the tenant in person
(b) delivery to any adult residing at the premises to be recovered
(c) by courier where the tenant cannot be found, by delivering same at the premises sought to be recovered and the courier shall provide proof of delivery; or
(d) affixing the notice on a prominent part of the premises to be recovered and providing corroborative proof of service.

Service of Notices for Business Premises
Proper service on a tenant of business premises shall be by
(a) delivery to a person at the business premises sought to be recovered; or
(b) affixing the notice on a prominent part of the premises to be recovered and providing corroborative proof of service.

Duty to notify other persons in occupation
Where a tenant is a person other than an individual (including a corporate entity), the landlord shall ensure proper service of all notices required under this Law on the tenant:
Provided that the failure of the tenant to notify any other person in occupation shall not affect the proceedings to recover possession.

Persons in unlawful occupation
Where a person claims possession of premises which he alleges is occupied solely by a person in unlawful occupation, the proceedings for recovery of the premises shall be by the summary procedure contained in the Civil Procedure Rules of the relevant court.

Service of process
Service of any summons, warrant or other processes shall be effected in accordance with the provisions of the law for the time being in force relating to the service of the civil process of Magistrates Court or the High Court of Lagos State.

Use of Forms
Subject to the provisions of this Law, the forms contained in the Schedule to this Law may be used in the cases to which they apply and when so used, shall be sufficient in Law.

An institution of proceedings to recover possession

Upon the expiration of the time stated in the notice as in Form if the tenant neglects or refuses to quit and deliver up possession, the landlord may file a claim by way of summons as in Form for recovery of possession, either against the tenant or against such person so neglecting or refusing, in the Magisterial District or High Court Division where the premises is situated.

Grounds for Possession

(1) Unless the agreement expressly stipulates otherwise, the Court shall have the power to make an order for possession upon proof of any of the following grounds –

(a) arrears of rent;

(b) breach of any covenant or agreement;

(c) where the premises are reasonably required by the landlord for personal use; and

(d) where the premises requires substantial repair.

(2) Notwithstanding any agreement between the parties, the Court shall have the power to make an order for possession upon proof of any of the following grounds:

(a) the premises is being used for immoral or illegal purposes;

(b) the premises have been abandoned;

(c) the premises is unsafe and unsound as to constitute a danger to human life or property; or

(d) the tenant or any person residing or lodging with him or being his sub-tenant constitutes by conduct, an act of intolerable nuisance or induces a breach of a tenancy agreement.

  1. Recovery of possession for a fixed term certain

Where;

(a) a tenancy is proved to be for a fixed term certain;

(b) the period of the tenancy has expired by effluxion of time; and
(c) A form has been served in accordance with Section 12(5) of this Law, the landlord shall be entitled to recovery of the premises.

Trial

(1) In any matter under this Law, relating to any fact required to be proved at the trial of any action, evidence may be by written deposition or oral examination of witnesses in open court.

(2) All agreed documents or other exhibits shall be tendered from the bar or by the party where he is not represented by a legal practitioner.

(3) The oral examination of a witness during his evidence-in-chief may be limited to confirming his written deposition and tendering in evidence all disputed documents or other exhibits.

(4) Where the tenant does not enter any defense and the landlord can prove-

(a) that the defendant is still neglecting or refusing to deliver up the premises;

(b) the annual rental value of the premises;

(c) the nature of the tenancy or holding;

(d) the expiration or other determination of the tenancy within the time and manner stipulated by law;

(e) the title of the landlord, if such have accrued since the letting of the premises; and

(f) the service of the summons or writ if the defendant does not appear,

the court may make an order as in Form for possession of the premises mentioned either immediately or on or before such time as the Court may direct, subject, however, to a limit of six (6) months after the date the order is made.

(5) Subject to the provisions of Section 12 (2) and (3), the court shall, in making an order for possession of premises, have regard to all circumstances of the case including where appropriate, the question as to whether other premises are available for the landlord or the tenant.

(6) If the claimant named in the summons or writ fails to obtain an order under subsection (1) of this Section, the defendant may be awarded such costs as the Court may direct.

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