TENANCY AGREEMENT IN NIGERIA
The concept of tenancy agreement is one widely used in Nigeria, it is reported that 85 per cent of Nigeria’s urban population lived in rented accommodation in 2010, devoting a large per cent of their income on rent. This goes to prove that Tenancy agreement is widely used and still prevalent in today Nigeria. The aim of this write-ups is to briefly discuss the concept, laws, clauses, rights concerning tenancy agreement with the specific focus on Lagos state.
What is a Tenancy Agreement?.
According to Section 47 of the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 it means “agreements whether written or oral, express or implied between a landlord and a tenant regarding possession of premise”.
A tenancy agreement is a relationship between an individual and his landlord. A tenancy agreement gives rights to both parties to the contract. The most predominant factor of a tenancy is that it is for a Term certain, which is usually between one to three years with the option to renew. Any tenancy agreement exceeding three (3) years is considered a lease agreement and not a tenancy agreement. However, it is important to note that pursuant to the said Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011, a landlord cannot accept any rent beyond the period of one year save for some designated areas such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Apapa and Ikeja GRA.
Who is a tenant? According to Section 47 of the Lagos State Tenancy law 2011
“a tenant includes a sub-tenant or any person lawfully in possession or occupation of premises whether by payment of rent or not.”
The guiding law for the Lagos State tenancy agreement is the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011.
As earlier stated when a contract has been reached it is agreed by the parties on the amount payable on the premises let out to the tenant which is called RENT, the landlord, in turn, is obligated to issue rent payment receipt to his tenant in respect of rent paid. The receipt shall state the following;
- The date on which the rent was received
- Names and address of the landlord and the tenant
- Description and location of the premises in respect of which the rent is paid
- Amount of the rent paid by the tenant
- Lastly, the period to which the payment relates, this means the duration of the tenancy not exceeding three (3) years.
It is vital to state that there is a penalty for a defaulting landlord who refuses to issue out a receipt to a tenant, this is to prevent fraudulent practices on unsuspecting tenants and enforcing a binding obligation between the parties executing the contract. Section 5(3) of the Tenancy law states that;
“any landlord who fails to issue a rent payment receipt to his tenant as prescribed under this section shall be liable on conviction to a fine of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000.00)”
Furthermore, where a tenancy agreement is reached, certain rights and entitlement arise to both parties individually, such rights include the followings:
Rights of a Tenant
- the tenant is entitled to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the premises
- the tenant has a right to privacy and no interference or unreasonable disturbance from the landlord
- the tenant has a right to exclusive possession of the premise, subject to the landlords restricted right of inspection
- the tenant also has a right to use common areas for the reasonable and lawful purposes
For all the above rights to avail the tenant the tenant must fulfil his or her own obligations by paying rents at the time and manner agreed. The tenant should also keep the premises in good and tenantable repair although reasonable wear and tear is acceptable.
Furthermore, the tenant must abide by the rules and clauses stipulated.
The landlord also has obligations to be fulfilled to the tenant. He is obligated not to disturb the tenant’s quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the premises and pay all rates and charges as stipulated by law.
The landlord should not terminate or restrict the use of a common facility or service for the use of premises.
Can a landlord eject a tenant from his premise?
Yes, a landlord can eject a tenant from his premises so far adequate notice is given to the tenant. However, failure to pay rent is not the only reason a tenant may be ejected. A tenant can be ejected for using the premises for an illegal purpose or where he or she breaches any covenant in the tenancy agreement or constitutes a nuisance or where the tenant abandoned the rented premises.
For a tenant to be ejected he must be issued a notice to quit by the landlord, the notice is a period which must be given before an action for eviction can be commenced against a tenant.
Section 13 of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State stipulates the length of notice to be given where there is no agreement between the landlord and tenant which are; one month notice for a monthly tenancy; 3 months notice for a half-yearly tenancy and 6 months notice for a yearly tenancy.
It is noteworthy that one of the most significant things about a Tenancy Agreement is that it usually follows with a fixed time thereby obviating the need to issue any quit notice to a tenant again. Under the Tenancy Law of Lagos State, where the time or period of any tenancy has been stated in an agreement, such tenancy will only be determined by an effluxion of time, and the landlord shall be automatically entitled to issue a 7 days notice of owners intention to recover the premises from the tenant, following by an action for recovery of the premises, where the tenant neglects to vacate after the 7 days.
But where there is a stipulation as to the notice period then the parties will be bound by that notice period.
A tenancy agreement is a widely used by landlords who intend to give out their property for duration of time not exceeding 3 years. Tenancy agreement stipulates the conditions agreed upon by both parties in the course of any tenancy.
A tenancy agreement must be drafted by the solicitor to the landlord, and must be properly scrutinized by a prospective tenant before appending his or her signature.
By Real Estate Law Team at Resolution Law Firm
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