The undue attachment of Nigerians to the land and landed property so much attention and superiority are added to the status of a landlord which has made it up for the ill-treatment the so-called landlords do meet out to their often poor tenants. Nigerian law is all-encompassing and people-welfare oriented. The law went on to offer an avalanche of rights, duties, and privileges for tenants. This article is set to outline and dwell on the details of the rights, duties, privileges, powers, and remedies open to tenants in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, a tenant is declared a lesser human being against the wishes of the constitution as many times as his/her rights are trampled on. The law will always lean in favour of a tenant and to safeguard him properly while he strives to acquire his own premises. You may be the owner of your residence while you are a tenant in your office complex. There can never be a tenant without a landlord.
These are some of the Tenants rights open in Nigeria
Right to Sue Landlord for Trespass: A tenant has the right to sue a landlord who pays deaf ears to the provisions of the law and goes on to throw him out. The above-detailed rules are not mere academic literature rather valid and subsisting procedure for the eviction of tenants in any part of Nigeria. Once a tenant is in the occupation of premises then he has all rights over the premises and the law will not allow his landlord to trespass against such.
The court will not hesitate to slam the hammer on a landlord that throws the laws to the winds. Let a tenant seek remedy in court by consulting a lawyer. He should equally complain to the Nigerian Police of such trespass, to investigate such and prosecute the landlord for criminal trespass. All persons are equal before the law and a landlord is not in any degree a master or lord unto his tenant; not a “tenant-lord”.
Right to a Written Agreement: The law makes the writing of tenancy agreements mandatory for tenancies above three (3) years while tenancy below three can be orally or written. Generally, to be on the safe side parties are advised to put their agreements in writing even if it is for a week tenancy. The tenancy agreements are to contain in details the names of a landlord and his tenant; as parties to the tenancy agreement. The land or house to be rented out ought to be described in details; showing its location and basic features.
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In making the tenancy agreement between the landlord and the prospective tenant both parties are to execute the agreement by signing and dating it before their respective witnesses (at least one witness for each party). Post office stamp should be affixed to the agreement to enrich its probative value (make it recognised in law and acceptable in court as evidence).
Right to Issuance of receipt of Payment: Payment of rent is a vital part of tenancy albeit not proof of the existence of a tenancy. It is often one of the covenants of a tenancy agreement. Prove of payment (receipt) is needed in the calculation of a mesne profit (rent incurred by a tenant after the expiration of a valid “Notice to Quit” served on him) and even arrears of rent (rent incurred by a tenant while in a valid tenancy with his landlord). It can equally clear off any allegation of contravention of a valid rent clause (prompt payment of rent).
Receipt of payment is an acknowledgement from a landlord (or his agent) that he has received rent from a tenant. It must contain the name of the landlord and the tenant, the amount paid and the date of such payment. The property for which such payment is made, the duration that such payment will cover and the signature of the receiver must also be on the receipt.
Right to Peaceful Enjoyment of Property: The tenant pays his rent to his landlord for the landlord to grant him a peaceful and serene enjoyment of the landlord’s property within an agreed period to the exclusion of all other persons; the landlord inclusive. No tenant pays to be offered an uninhabitable apartment, dilapidated property, unsecured environment or a contentious accommodation. Once payment is made and tenancy commences the tenant has both legal and fair rights over the said property.
Right to a Valid Notice to Quit: The legislatures in consideration of our conservative Land Use Act have enacted a series of tenant-friendly Acts and laws. A tenant cannot be thrown out of his apartment unless there is strict compliance by his landlord with of relevant Recovery of Premises Law. Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid “Notice to Quit” (Quit Notice) of a landlord’s intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served on the tenant.
Right to a Compulsory Seven (7) Days Notice to Recover Premises: The “Seven (7) days Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises” is a notice from a landlord’s lawyer notifying a tenant upon whom a “notice to quit” had been served and same had expired; that the lawyer will after seven (7) days from the date of the service of the Notice proceed to court to recover the overhead premises on behalf of the landlord.
The Lagos Tenancy Law
A “(7) Seven days Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises” can only be served on a tenant after the expiration of a valid “Notice to Quit”. Where a seven (7) Days Notice is served before a “Notice to Quit” or during the lifespan of a “Notice to Quit”, such as invalid and goes to no issue. A seven (7) days notice is to be calculated from the day after the service of the notice on the tenant and not from the day of service. If the notice is short or less by just a day it is a good ground for the court to reject the legality of such.