Are you aware of the various landlord and tenancy law in Nigeria? Plus, how you either as a landlord or tenant can exercise your right lawfully?
Tenant rights are more important than home renters actually think and the first step towards protecting your rights as a tenant in Nigeria is to know what those rights are. Ignorance will put you at the mercy of caretakers and landlords in Nigeria.
Before we check out landlord and tenancy law in Nigeria. Let us begin by establishing who a tenant is within the scope of the law as well as the real estate space.
Landlord and Tenancy Law in Nigeria
A Tenant is a person who occupies a property or land rented from a landlord and is subject to the payment of rent. With this now explained, let us move on to examining tenancy rules in Nigeria and what they mean to you as a tenant in Nigeria.
Right to Issuance of Receipt of Payment
It is crucial for tenants to pay their rent but it is not considered proof of the existence of tenancy until payment is made.
One of the multiple reasons why it is an important part of a tenancy is because it does the following:
- First, it serves as a proof of payment.
- Aids the court calculate the precise time frame for a valid quit notice especially in a situation where agreement is lacking.
- The receipt is necessary for the calculation of a mesne profit (which is the rent a tenant incurs upon the expiration of a valid quit notice, which was served on him or her).
- Necessary to counter and clear allegations of your inability or refusal to comply to timely payment of rent.
- The payment receipt is an acknowledgement from your landlord that he or she received payment from you.
For the receipt of payment to be considered valid, it must contain the following:
- Your full name as well as the landlord’s name
- The exact amount you paid as rent
- The date the payment was received
- The property type the rent was paid. For instance, was it a 3-bedroom apartment, a self-contain, or a detached house?
- The period of time that the rent paid is expected to cover. For example, was the rent paid to cover 12 months, 24 months (two years), or 6 months?
- The signature of the person receiving the payment must also be evident on the receipt.
Note: It is an actionable offence for the landlord to decline the issuance of receipt of payment to you even if you’re only making a partial payment of rent. He or she still needs to issue a receipt to you.
Where a printed receipt cannot be issued, a written agreement, which is endorsed by the landlord in the presence of a witness stating that he or she has received payment from you will be considered a genuine receipt of payment. This is in line with tenancy agreement law in Nigeria.
No matter how close you’re to the landlord, ensure you always insist on being issued a receipt upon payment of your house rent.
Right to Written Agreement
Agreements can either be written or oral but we at Housetolet recommend you opt for a written agreement. A written agreement takes away every form of doubt and ambiguity around the intention of all parties involved (you and the landlord). This is backed by tenancy act in Nigeria.
According to the Tenancy rule in Nigeria, tenancy agreements above 3 years are required to be written while those lesser than 3 years can either be written or oral. Experts have however advised that no matter the length or duration of your tenancy, you should always pick a written agreement.
Details that should be included in a written agreement include:
- Your full name
- The Landlord’s name
- Details of the type of property that is being rented out
- The features and location of the property you are renting
- The timeframe the rent will elapse
- The amount of money that is being paid as rent
- The payment date i.e the date you paid the money.
- The duration of “quit notice” to be served by the landlord
- The modalities for an upward review of the rent
- The person who bears the responsibility for expenses like sanitation bills, electricity, and water
- The person in charge of repair works within and around the property.
- A post office stamp should be affixed to make it acceptable in court as an evidence.
Before a written agreement can be said to be valid, both parties (the landlord and you) are to execute the agreement by signing and dating it with at least one witness each.
You need to be exercise carefulness with your written agreement because landlords are well known for duplicating a single agreement and using it for all their tenancy agreements. The disadvantage of this is that such an agreement leaves certain intentions unexpressed.
Be on the lookout for agreements that are created by the landlord’s lawyer and given to you. Such agreements have a reputation of being unfavorable and confusing to you in the long run.
We advise that you have a property lawyer look into such agreements to spot out anything that has been dumped there to work against you one way or the other.
Your lawyer then advises you on what to add and what you need to pull out.
Avoid the temptation of jumping into an agreement orally or without a property lawyer to guide you. Do not allow your present relationship with your landlady or landlord cloud your thinking. Relationships can go biter, which can leave you in a tough situation in the absence of an agreement that is legally binding on you and the landlord.
Right to Occupy Rented Property in Peace
Another tenancy act in Nigeria is the right to occupy rented property in peace.
The instance you pay your rent and append your signature on a written agreement, you earn the right to occupy the rented property in peace. When you become a tenant, you own legal and equitable right over the rented space.
By default, your tenant rights awards you this privilege.
This right is total and you can sue trespassers your caretaker or landlord are not exempted from this. The landlord still owns the property, yeah? And is free to maintain the property only with your knowledge. All manner of maintenance should be done at reasonable hours of the day.
For example, a landlord cannot decide to be banging at your gate by 11:30pm to cut the cocoa tree in the yard.
Upon renting the property out to you, the landlord temporarily hands over control of the property to you until the expiration of your tenancy. A landlord can only trample on your rights as a tenant when you are not aware such rights even exists.
In a case where your landlord abuses this right, do not hesitate to inform your property lawyer or the closest police station.
Right to Valid Quit Notice Before Eviction
This tenancy eviction law in Nigeria is one landlord’s in states like Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun often pray their tenants are never aware of.
As a tenant, your landlord has no legal right to throw you or your valuables out of his/her property without a valid quit notice to quit the property.
Before your landlord or landlady can get you to quit their property, there must be strict compliance with the Recovery of Premises Law and it has to be relevant. Your tenant rights make you entitled to this.
The Recovery of Premises Law states that “a valid Quit Notice (Notice to Quit) must be written and served on you before your landlord can terminate your tenancy.”
The law is very clear on this.
The period of the Quit Notice is set based on certain conditions of your tenancy:
- A 1-year (or above) tenancy will require at least a notice of 6 months
- A one-month tenancy will require a minimum notice of one month
- A 1-week tenancy will require a minimum notice of one week
Note: You and the landlord can opt to agree to a totally different timeframe for the quit notice in the written agreement. What this means, for example, is that despite the fact that the law says that your landlord should give you a notice of 1 month to quit a tenancy of 1 month, it can be increased to 2 months or reduced to 2 weeks’ notice via the written and signed agreement.
On the issues of quit notice law in Nigeria, experts have progressively agreed that there is high need for you to go through a property lawyer before you append your signature to a tenancy agreement. The real estate space is full of scary stories of tenants like you who signed agreement to be evicted without a “Notice to Quit” without realizing the full implication of what they were signing.
REMEMBER THIS – The law does not care to know if you understood what you were signing or not. In law, this is known as ‘ignorantia legis non excuse‘ (ignorance of the law is no excuse). If you sign a legal agreement that limits your rights, you will be bound by the same agreement. Under the law, this is known as ‘volenti non fit injuria.’
The landlord has full rights to issue you a “Notice to Quit” if you owe rents on the property for 3 consecutive months.
Right to a Compulsory 7 Days Notice to Recover Premises
This is the last of landlord and tenancy law in Nigeria.
Under the Nigerian law, you are entitled to a compulsory “7 Days’ Notice to Recover Premises.” This notice comes from your landlord’s lawyer to alert you that the lawyer will proceed to court after 7 days of serving you this quit notice, recover the over-held premises on behalf of the landlord.
This 7-day notice comes after the initial notice served to you to quit the property has expired. The extra 7 days’ notice serves to legally protect you from being forcefully humiliated or ejected. It also offers you enough time to quit the property.
We should add here that the “7 Days Notice to Recover Premises” can only be served upon the expiration of the first quit notice. The 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 it is served during the period of a “Quite Notice” or before a “Quit Notice”, it is rendered invalid.
Final Thoughts on Tenant Rights
Tenancy law in Abuja Nigeria, Tenancy law in Ogun state or any other parts of the country are the same irrespective of your location.
Regardless of what property you’re renting or wherever it us, the law is clear on what you and the landlord can and cannot do. Tenant rights are simple and easy to learn. To avoid manipulation by a cunny landlord or lawyer into appending your signature into dubious tenancy agreements that can come back to burn you, consider hiring a real estate lawyer to protect your interest.
Do you agree that knowing tenancy law in Nigeria is important? Have you ever had a nasty exper ience with a Nigerian landlady or landlord? Is there anyone you’d like to share with us? Use the comment section below. Thanks!