Connect with us

Features

Talking Law with Ivie Omoregie: So You Want to Rent a Property? Get Familiar with these 5 Terms

Ivie Omoregie

Published

 on

pic 1 It’s funny how when renting a new place, a lot of us painstakingly find the ideal place, immediately pay “to secure the property” then proceed to move in; all this being done before the landlord/agent drops off the tenancy agreement, that’s if there is even a tenancy agreement at all.

The role of the lawyer when renting new premises is so underplayed; however, we all know that the Legal fee is a non-negotiable part of the whole transaction. In most instances the lawyer gets to receive awoof money, as the agreement sent out tends to be “copy and paste” in nature.

Tenancy in Lagos State is governed by the Lagos State Tenancy Laws, however the majority of the provisions of this act may be contracted out of via the tenancy agreement. Please note that this article was written with yearly tenancies in Lagos State in mind, but some of the issues highlighted are universal.

Many of the following terms are so vital, yet they are either not adequately addressed or not even included in the Tenancy Agreement at all. Unfortunately, the moment those terms not included in the document become a cause for quarrel. A sweet relationship can turn sour very quickly. Trust me, beef on one’s doorstep is never advisable.

Eviction
I recently reviewed what I must say is the greatest tenancy agreement I have ever read. The lawyer who drafted it protected the landlord in all ways possible, unfortunately to the detriment of the tenant… my client.

What struck me in the agreement was the clause which dealt with the landlord’s ability to recover the premises, which was to the effect that: “if the tenant at any time fails or neglects to perform and observe any of the covenants and conditions contained for a period of up to (1) week, whether there has been a formal notice
or not, then the landlord may re-enter the premises, enjoying same as if this tenancy has not been granted”
And boy did this agreement have A LOT of restrictive covenants and conditions?!

Obviously you cannot take away the landlords right to protect himself from nuisance tenants; but in doing so the landlord should at least be fair. When negotiating the eviction clause, try and push for 6 months’ notice as this is what is prescribed under the act.

orga landlord

Rent Payable
We all know that as a tenant you face the risk of being evicted if you are in arrears with your rent. Unfortunately for some, the moment they are just about settling down in the house they rented, the landlord comes to inform them that the rent has gone up, without caring if the tenant has a fixed budget (which has not gone up). The tenant then cannot afford an increase in rent. Many tenancy agreements do not address rent review, giving the Landlord the power to bully the Tenant.

One of my friends got a shocking letter from the landlord telling her that the rent for her shop had increased from 1.1m to 2.2m within the space of 12 months. The guy had seen her activities on social media, and had seen the kind of clientele visiting her shop, he felt “this babe is making money ooh”, and got greedy. As you can imagine, she was not a happy bunny, but had no choice other than to pay up. She had already branded her business location and moving was simply not in her plans for that year.

Ideally when renting a place, you should try and negotiate that the rent be fixed for a period of 3 years, after which there may be an upward review of 15-20%. This increase should be communicated to the tenant 3-6 months prior to the end of the tenancy.

Service Charge
The service charge is an interesting topic. When I first moved back, I had a little apartment, and I bought my gen which the gate man helped me to operate. After some time the gen developed spiritual problems and my gate man developed shakara. At times, he would switch off his phone when I called him to put on the gen at 3.30am because NPEA has taken light. Honestly, I believed that service apartments were the only way forward, but was seriously advised to be very careful.

I must stress that the service charge is entirely contractual and not regulated by law. Unfortunately, in many instances landlords will impose a specified service charge, without actually detailing the services you are being charged for. I am finding increased instances where the concept of service charge is being abused, and landlords using this purely as a means of extracting more money from the tenant.

Before paying the service charge insist on a fully itemized breakdown of exactly what the money is to be used for. Where the service charge does not include diesel usage, insist that the landlord provides a monthly estimate of what the likely diesel usage per apartment per month is likely to be. I know the landlord is not a psychic, but where you are not the first ever tenant to live in the apartment, they can use the average monthly usage from the previous year to project the usage for this year.

Caution Fee/ Deposit For Damage
Please note: although not the case in all instances, in MOST instances when accepting the caution fee, the landlord has no intention what so ever of refunding it, upon the termination of the agreement. Again this is another way landlords siphon more money from unsuspecting tenants, and most likely that money is going to be used to “re-pimp” the place for the next tenant.

I have not seen a single instance where the tenant vacates premises, leaving it in exactly the same condition as it was in when the tenant moved in. Most landlords do not want to accept that there will always be wear and tear, and where they do accept this, they have now devised this interesting way of hedging against possible losses. In an event where the landlord insists that you pay a deposit, make sure you take pictures of everything before you move in so that you can use this as a reference point in case of a future dispute.

5Right to Peaceful Possession
A friend of mine rented a very nice property. She was in love with the place, and honestly when I saw it I was too. The house was amazing. Unfortunately for her, the landlady lived in the neighboring compound and that was the beginning of the issues. There was a gap in the fence and my friend would often complain that she would come home from work to find the landlady on her side purportedly “inspecting” the property. She ignored it. Things came to a head when the landlady started dictating the latest time she could open her gate, screaming “Lagos is a dangerous place”. For months my friend found herself tip toeing around the landlady, because she just didn’t want the old woman’s trouble…… eventually she called someone to tastefully seal the gap in the fence and boned.

I must stress that the right to peaceful possession is a fundamental right and that without it you don’t have a lease, but a mere licence to occupy space. Once the property has been rented to a tenant, the landlord no longer has the right to re-enter the premises unless he has the tenant’s express permission and upon reasonable notice of same.

Conclusion
When moving into a new property always ask the neighbors as many questions as possible. Ask about the landlord’s temperament; ask about the area; investigate why the old tenant moved out. Sha ask as many questions as possible. This is usually a good way of gaging what to reasonably expect from the property.

However, I must stress that when renting new premises, even where one has been as diligent as possible, life can always throw curve balls which are totally unexpected for both the tenant and the landlord.

In all instances a positive and understanding mind-set will always go a long way. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other party and act accordingly.

Ivie Omoregie is the Founding Consultant at Skye Advisory. Skye Advisory is a boutique business advisory firm with locations in London, England, as well as Lagos, Nigeria. Skye Advisory offers bespoke Legal, Financial and General Business advisory services to small and micro businesses. Ivie is a duly qualified lawyer with years of cross border experience in the areas of Corporate Advisory, Energy and Projects, Finance and Litigation.  Ivie is also an active member of the Nigerian Bar Association as well as an avid woman's and children's rights promoter. View more details about her at www.IvieOmoregie.com. Follow her on Twitter @Ivie_Omoregie and Instagram @Ivie.Omoregie "

28 Comments

  1. Ariere

    March 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Ms. Omoregie, thanks so much for this article. Its really an eye opener. I sure will take cognisance of the wisdom here.

  2. blueivy

    March 4, 2016 at 11:32 am

    i am having a challenge at my new place of residence. i have a neighbor who runs his generator all thru the night into the morning. the annoying thing is that this neighbor stays upstairs but keeps his generator downstairs. i am worried about the health and security issues this poses on the people living downstairs. we have complained to the landlord but he seem to be helpless in this situation though he has talked to this neighbor but all that fell on deaf ear. the other day thieves robbed one of the tenants downstairs and the rest of us didnt get to know becos of the noise from the generator. pls i need to know what govt agency that handles this kind of complaint. i dont want to have issues but resolve this amicably with my neighbor.

    • Ocean Beauty

      March 4, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      If I advice you now BN fit no post am. But take action yourself instead of complaint. You have salt and water at home. Make use of it.

    • mo

      March 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Ah! Omo araye, E ma rora se o. Please don’t answer her o. I have lesser problem causing solution. You can disconnect the cord at your bedtime.

    • Hian!

      March 4, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      looooooooooooooooooooooooooool. DO it!!!!!!

    • Well

      March 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Poor salt inside the engine. Worked for one of our neighbors. Till date, nobody knows who did it. ?..

  3. Ocean Beauty

    March 4, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    If I advice you now BN fit no post am. But take action yourself instead of complaining. You have salt and water at home. Make use of it.

  4. Bisi

    March 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    oH Lord @ocean beauty your comment is funny and straight to the point.
    Nice Article. Beautiful write-up.

  5. victor

    March 4, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    well done Ivie,

    yet another fantastic read. love this write up, landlords are taking the liberties up and down the country.

  6. Hmmm..

    March 4, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Just like I was in so much hurry to get a new place, and ended up in the midst of prostitutes. My landlord didn’t give the notice early enough, and it was rush hour..late December. Just gave smone d duty to help me search cos of time.. I close very late most of the time. Moving from Parkview to this area in VI/Lekki filled with prostitutes, and poor light condition… Never really heard about the condition of the place till I moved in. Mtchewww

    • Noname

      March 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Downgrade ni yen. That’s what you get when you downgrade. Hehe.

    • Oma

      March 5, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      @Hmmm, Oniru, right? i was almost a victim, in fact i had paid the rent sef but God saved me. I got a refund but lost part of the money.

  7. Karen

    March 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    ALL YOU BROKE ASSES TALKING ABOUT RENTING IN 2016 …..

    GO AND BUY JOR

    BE THE LANDLORD

    • Ninja

      March 5, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Stop shouting my friend. Your talking nonsense

  8. Hian!

    March 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    “One of my friends got a shocking letter from the landlord telling her that the rent for her shop had increased from 1.1m to 2.2m within the space of 12 months. The guy had seen her activities on social media, and had seen the kind of clientele visiting her shop, he felt “this babe is making money ooh”, and got greedy”

    See ehn, the first thing I did when I joined IG, was block ALL my colleagues, I kid you not, every single one of them,
    thankfully, my office is small, On twitter, I just “padlocked” my account abeg, ain’t nobody get time for drama, I don’t talk about work or my colleagues on SM, but i NEED my privacy, don’t want nobody coming to me on Monday saying, “I see you had a very interesting weekend” biko biko I already see you like 9 hours a day, stay in your lane

    • hmmmm

      March 4, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      its funny, people always forget that ones colleagues are not ones friends, we spend soo much time together in the office we often forget.

      If your colleagues are not the kind of people you would see out of the office environment, then I don’t see why you should be anything other than cordial.

    • nene

      March 4, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      gbam

  9. Hian!

    March 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    BTW, well don Ivie, your write ups are always helpful

  10. Lizabeth

    March 4, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I had an issue too with a landlady who goes by the name -. She cheated me of 140k. I told her that anywhere I catch her, she should just run for her life!

  11. mimi

    March 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Ivie have u ever handled any recovery of premises suit? Please look for the case of Odutola V. Papersack (2007) NWLR and educate yourself. Once a tenancy has been determined by effluxion of time, the tenant is only entitled to 7days quit notice and Owners intention to recover possession.

    • Nonsense

      March 5, 2016 at 11:15 am

      That process of repossession of property under the law can and always does take years. parties are free to contract out of the scope of the law.

      From the date of giving the initial 6 month quit notice, to the 7 day landlords intention to recover premises, to going back to the court to declear that the property is now ripe for recovery, and then going back to the court to get the court sheriffs who will follow you to the property to evict the tenant. That’s if there is no counter claim in the application ooh. If there is a counter claim the tennant has a right to appeal the lower courts decision. All this whilst retaining possession of the property.

      If the landlord misses any of these steps and enters the property forcefully evicting the tenant and reclaim possession the tenant will have a claim for trespass. And trespass is a black and white claim.

      In the case you quoted, I think you made a mistake as that is the worst possible example. Papersack rented property in the 1970s. The rent expired in 1982, the action was filed in 1989, they got judgement in 2007.

    • Barrister

      March 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Well said.

      Ivie is on point Abeg #GreatRead

  12. Missdelta

    March 4, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I have to say Ivie’s articles are always a good read but this has to be the best yet! Having been victim of a couple of nightmare landlords in Lekki I can’t stress how important it is to 1) Have a professional legal adviser go through a tenancy agreement before you sign it and 2) Have legal representation the second things start to get even “slightly” out of hand. DO NOT enter into exchanges, confrontations or respond to letters or texts from bullying landlords without represnetation. Just the very fact that they realise you have it will often make them think twice before trying to take advantage of you.

    • Sonya

      March 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      land lord wahala is just terrible. May God continue to hold these people to question. i think they know there are no repercussions to just do as they please.

      well done Ivie, keep up the good work.

  13. Nikki

    March 5, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Interesting read!

  14. Rookie

    March 5, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Love sexy intelligent women. Well done Ivie.

  15. mimi

    March 7, 2016 at 8:58 am

    @Nonsense one thing very clear to me is, uve never practiced litigation in Nig or elsewhere. Practice is different from whats in your textbook and No, recovery does not take years. The courts dispenses with such cases on the causelist very fast as the defendant is an enigmatic character that the law hates but protects. The law talks about requisite notices ie Notice to quit & Owners intention to recover possession.what you have up there is what u get in Principle not in practice. Please do yourself a favour and practice litigation for awhile, it will do u a world of good. Have u heard the word”locus classicus”? thats what Odutola v. papersack is , when u talk about recovery of premises and cases of 1900(SOGA) Is still refernced not to talk of the ones of 1970 something. Your knowledge of law seems rusty. Bless your heart.

  16. mimi

    March 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

    @ once the notices have been served, the landlord can file a suit against the tenant, for the landlord to serve the notices means he has no intention to unlawfully take possession cos then the tenant will be entitled to damages from him. Trust me this isnt to knock your hustle, i learnt the hard way and also know that a smart lawyer knows how to get a tenant out but its not what i ll detail here cos u learn a trick or two while practising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get The Pan-Atlantic Advantage

Star Features

Advertisement
css.php