Most people usually do not want to rent an apartment where the Landlord also resides. This mindset appears to be predicated on the different harrowing brought on by such landlords which often leads to constant conflict between the Landlord and Tenant. The root cause of this constant conflict has over the years been reduced to a lack of knowledge of parties' rights, duties, privileges, powers, and remedies available to both parties in the event of a breach. In this article, we shall be examining the rights of both the Landlord and tenant.
THE RIGHTS OF A LANDLORD
A Landlord has rights in respect of his/her property which a Tenant is in occupation. These rights are as follows:
Right to receive or collect rent
A landlord has a right to the collection of rent on the apartment that has been rented out to a tenant. The rent to be paid is as agreed by both the landlord and the tenant. The amount payable is mostly stated in the tenancy agreement executed by the parties.
The right not to renew a tenancy
A Landlord has a right not to renew the tenancy, most especially when the Tenant has violated the provisions/clauses stated on the face of the tenancy agreement. The law cannot impose an unwilling Landlord on a Tenant. The landlord has the right to evict the tenant in the occupation of renting his property.
Right to Not Issue Quit Notice1
It should be known that the Landlord has the right not to issue a quit notice when the tenancy agreement is for a certain term. The effect of the tenancy agreement having a provision for a certain term means that the Tenant has waived his right to being served a quit notice. So, it is essential for an intending tenant to review the tenancy agreement before signing it.
Right to have the apartment maintained in a good condition
The Landlord has the right to have his house maintained in good condition by the tenant. The tenant is to take good care of the rented apartment and prevent avoidable damage to the apartment. This right does not however extend to damages caused by acts of God.
Right to Compensation from Compulsory Acquisition
By virtue of the Land Use Act,2 the government has the right to mandatorily acquire property for public purposes and infrastructure, however, the landlord has the right to be compensated by the government for such acquisition once the ownership has been confirmed.
THE RIGHTS OF A TENANT
The Tenant also has rights over the property he/she is in possession and the rights are as follows:
RIGHT TO A WRITTEN AGREEMENT3
Every tenant in Nigeria has the right to an agreement. The agreement can be oral or written. However, it is advised that agreements between both parties should be written in order to remove any form of doubt and uncertainty.
It is advisable that before signing any tenancy agreement, the tenant seeks the service of a solicitor for advice.
RIGHT TO ISSUANCE OF RECEIPT OF PAYMENT4
It is an actionable offense to refuse to issue a receipt for rent paid and received. It is your right as a tenant to be issued a receipt upon payment of rent. Where the payment is only a part of a whole, it should also be receipted and stated.
Right to Occupy Rented Property in Peace5
When a tenant pays his rent and is issued a receipt, it is expected that the landlord will by extension will be granting him the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property. Once this is done, he determines the entrance, usage, and safety and can even sue for trespass against any trespasser; strangers, the landlord, and his agents.
RIGHT TO A VALID QUIT NOTICE
A Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid "quit notice" of a landlord's intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served on the tenant. The amount of time given to the tenant to quit albeit weekly, monthly, or yearly, depends on the type of tenancy created and the rent paid. Thus, it is advised that a tenant thoroughly read through the Tenancy Agreement before signing as some tenants in signing without a thorough reading may sign away their rights for a 'quit notice'. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse under the law.
RIGHT TO A COMPULSORY (7) SEVEN DAYS NOTICE TO RECOVER PREMISES
The "Seven (7) Days' Notice of Owner's Intention to Recover Premises" is a notice from the landlord notifying a tenant upon whom a "Quit Notice" 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 over- held premises on behalf of the landlord.
Discussed above are some of the rights of a tenant covered by Nigerian law. And as there are laws protecting the tenant, the landlord has laws protecting his rights under Nigerian law too. Below are some of the Rights of a Landlord in Nigeria.
It can be seen that both the Landlord and Tenant have rights before the law. Any of the parties whose rights have been violated can seek redress in a Court of law. However, it is advisable to seek the advice of a Solicitor before commencing a Landlord-Tenant relationship with anyone in order to avoid unnecessary and foreseeable conflicts during the pendency of the tenancy.
1. See section 9 of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State
2. The Nigerian Land Use Act 1978
3. See section 3 of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State.
4. See section 5 of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State
5. See section 6 of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.