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Dennis Isong: The Rights of Tenants and Landlords in Nigeria

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Getting your desired apartment or building a property for the sole purpose of renting to occupants for a certain period isn’t an easy task for one to achieve. However, once you have what you want, it’s very important you know your rights according to the law guiding the ownership or renting a property.

Knowing the That peace and harmony you desire as either a tenant or landlord can be achieved and good communication established between both parties. Let’s find out what the law is about.

The Rights to a Property

A high percentage of house seekers hardly want to live in the same apartment where the owner lives too. This is due to many unpleasant experiences or the stories they have heard from their friends and family. There have been many stories of how landlords eject tenants without prior notice. This can only happen when you do not know your rights as a tenant.

Many landlords are ignorant of their rights too. Except you run a charity home, having a tenant occupy your property for years without any payment is an act of ignorance. Nigeria has established laws on property rights and protection. This law provides privileges for both parties and also states the rights, powers, duties, privileges of tenants and landlords.

Let’s check out some of the rights available to tenants as provided by the Tenancy Law in Nigeria.

Right to a Well-Written Tenancy Agreement

This law guides the right to every occupant of a property; it doesn’t mind the type of property or where the property is located. It’s highly advisable that every occupant of a property must be provided with a well-written agreement, not just a verbal one. This is to avoid any argument or dispute that can easily result from an oral agreement.

The tenancy agreement should contain in details:

  • The full names of the property owner or landlord.
  • The full names of the prospective tenant.
  • The house description of the apartment to be rented; that’s the location and its basic features.
  • The payment information such as the amount for the apartment, the next renewal of payment (the expiration date of the tenancy), the account to make payment and the duration of the rent.
  • Also, the probability for future negotiations.

You’re then expected to read thoroughly before signing the agreement and if in doubt with anything written on it, make sure it’s well sorted out before appending your signature. If possible, seek the service of a solicitor or lawyer to ensure proper understanding of the terms in the tenancy agreement.

Right to Receipt of Payment

Once you have made payments for rent, you’ve every right to be issued the receipt of payment by the landlord or representative. This serves as an acknowledgment by the landlord/representative that the rent payment has been received. The receipt should contain the following:

  • The full name of the landlord.
  • The full name of the tenant.
  • The amount paid.
  • The date of the payment.
  • The supposed property for the payment.
  • The duration the payment covers.
  • The signature of the receiver.

It’s highly recommended that you receive a receipt for payment of your rented property, no matter the relationship you have with the landlord.

Right to Valid Quit Notice

If a landlord doesn’t need a certain tenant to occupy his or her property anymore, then the landlord must follow due process to evict the tenant from the apartment. This is done by issuing a valid quit notice to the tenant which should contain the following details:

  • The full name of the landlord.
  • The full name of the tenant.
  • The address of the property occupied by the tenant.
  • Also, the duration.

This information must be available on the quit notice for it to be as a valid one.

The Right to Harmonious Relationships

Immediately a tenant completes his or her own part of the agreement and makes payment for the property, then it is the landlord’s duty to grant the tenant his/her expected right to enjoy the property in harmony. Once this is achieved, the tenant can choose the preferred entrance, position, usage and can sue for trespass against anyone not allowing him to enjoy his peace. However, this doesn’t prevent the landlord from supervising and maintaining the property as time progresses but it must be done with the knowledge of the tenant and at their agreed time and day.

Right to a Compulsory 7-Day Notice to Recover Possessions

Apart from the quit notice, all tenants have the right to a 7-day notice to recover their possessions. This notice comes after the valid quit notice expires.

The Rights of a Property Owner/Landlord

Landlords also have rights for property protection. They include:

The Right to Renew Tenancy

This is the right given to landlords over their property. They have to right to not renew a tenant’s agreement, especially if they are not comfortable with having the tenant occupy their property. The landlord has the right to do away with any tenant he’s not comfortable renting his property to.

Right to Not Issue Quit Notice

The landlord has the right to not issue quit notice to the tenants because most Nigerians end up flouting court orders to vacate a premise after the quit notice elapses. Therefore, the landlord has both the right to issue or not to issue quit notice most especially when he has waived his right to quit notice in the agreement. That’s why it’s important to study the tenancy agreement very well. During this period, the landlord can issue a 7-day notice to recover possession.

Right to Review Rent

Landlords have the right to review the rent to their property and it must be in line with the Rent Review Clause, however, this must not affect the tenant during an existing tenancy.

Right to Compensation from Compulsory Acquisition

By virtue of the Land Use Act, 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.

 

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