Sometime in December 2021, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed that a new policy for monthly tenancy on property occupancy would commence in Lagos State in 2022.
According to him, the policy is aimed at easing off the pressure of yearly rent on tenants and enabling people to pay their rents according to their monthly earnings among other intended advantages.
This article Xrays the following:
- The Regulatory framework of tenancy in Lagos State;
- The nature and concept of a monthly tenancy;
- The rights and obligations of a monthly tenant; and,
- Determination of a monthly tenancy as provided under the Tenancy Law of Lagos State, 2011.
THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The law that regulates tenancy matters in Lagos State is the Tenancy Law of Lagos State, 2011, formerly known as Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises Law Vol.7 Laws of Lagos State 2003.
The Law applies to all premises and locations in Lagos State except:
- Residential premises owned or operated by educational institutions;
- Residential premises provided for emergency shelters;
- Residential premises in a care centre, hospital, whether public or private, or mental health facility; and
- Premises made available in the course of providing rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment.
Also, the Law does not apply to Apapa, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi and Victoria Island areas of Lagos State1. The Law is silent on the applicable law in the affected areas.
NATURE OF A MONTHLY TENANCY
Section 47 of the Law defines a tenant to include a sub-tenant or any person occupying any premises whether by payment of rent howsoever or by operation of law and not persons unlawfully occupying any premises under a bona fide claim to be the owner.
The Law does not define a monthly tenant, however, by implication, a monthly tenant includes a sub-tenant or any person occupying any premises whether by payment of rent howsoever or by operation of law and not persons unlawfully occupying any premises for one month.
What then is the right of a monthly tenant?
RIGHTS OF A TENANT
The right of a tenant includes the following:
1. RIGHT TO QUIET AND PEACEABLE ENJOYMENT OF THE PREMISES2: the Law confers on a tenant the right to occupy the rented premises without disturbance or unnecessary interference.
This right includes privacy, freedom from unreasonable disturbance, and exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlord's restricted right of inspection.
2)RIGHT TO DEMAND FOR COMPENSATION3: the Law provides for compensation to a tenant who has expended funds in carrying out improvements or restructuring in the demised premises.
However, such improvement should be carried out subject to the prior written consent of the landlord.
3) RIGHT TO RENT PAYMENT RECEIPT4: By virtue of the Law, a tenant has the right to demand receipt of payment upon payment of rent. A landlord who fails to issue a rent payment receipt is liable to a fine of N100,000.
4) RIGHT TO CHALLENGE ARBITRAL INCREASE IN RENT:5 the Law confers a right on an existing tenant to apply to the Court by form TL 11 for an Order declaring that the increase in rent payable under a tenancy agreement is unreasonable.
This is however subject to the express provision in the tenancy agreement executed by parties.
OBLIGATIONS OF A TENANT
In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, the following are the obligations imposed on a tenant by Law:
- PAYMENT OF RENT6
The tenant has the obligation to pay rent at reasonable times and in the manner stipulated in their lease agreement. Rent is the payment for the use and occupation of the rental property.
- PAY RATES AND CHARGES7
The tenant is required to pay all future rates and outgoings not payable by the landlord. These rates include electricity bills, water bills, service charges, etc.
- KEEP THE PREMISES IN GOOD AND TENANTABLE REPAIR8
The tenant is required to keep the rental property in premises in good and tenantable repair, reasonable wear and tear excepted;
- PERMIT RIGHT OF ENTRY TO LANDLORD AND AGENTS9
A tenant is to permit the landlord and his agents during the tenancy at all reasonable hours in the daytime after previous written notice, to view the condition of the premises and to effect, repairs in necessary parts of the building;
- NOT TO MAKE ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS10
A tenant is mandated by Law not to make any alterations or additions to the premises without the written consent of the landlord first had and obtained orally or in writing.
(6) NOT ASSIGN OR SUBLET11
A tenant is statutorily obligated not to assign or sublet any part of the premises without the written consent of the landlord.
Please note that a tenant's failure to adhere to the fundamental obligations as agreed by parties in the lease agreement constitutes a breach of contractual terms and a ground for evicting a tenant from the rental property.
DETERMINATION OF A MONTHLY TENANCY (Section 13)
In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, a monthly tenancy shall be determined by a one (1) month's notice.
Where the tenant still holds over the premises, the landlord (owner) can then serve the tenant with a seven (7) days notice of the owner's intention to recover possession.
Finally, where the tenant fails to give up possession at the expiration of the seven (7) days' notice, the landlord can then apply to the court for a court's order evicting the tenant by way of summons with particulars of claim.
The grounds for determination include arrears of rent, breach of any covenant or agreement, and use of premises for immoral or illegal purposes among others.
In sum, this policy that and is still generating lots of mixed reactions from landlords, tenants, estate developers, property lawyers, and other stakeholders is yet to be implemented in anyway. A lot of sensitization and restructuring will be required to bring this policy to life. It is without a doubt that the policy will ease off some pressure of yearly rent on tenants, however, people without constant sources of monthly income should be considered as this policy might not be favourable. It is also important that this policy should be made to address trial procedure and delay in the disposal of tenancy cases as this will be on the raise if monthly tenancy becomes effective
1 Section 1(2) and 1(3) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
2 Section 6(1) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
3 Section 6(2) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
4 Section 5 of the Tenancy Law, 2011
5 Section 37 of the Tenancy Law, 2011
6 Section 7(1) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
7 Section 7(2) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
8 Section 7(3) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
9 Section 7(4) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
10 Section 7(5) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
11 Section 7(6) of the Tenancy Law, 2011
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.