The Nigerian law is all-encompassing and people-welfare oriented that the law went on to provide an avalanche of rights, duties, and privileges for both parties. The law defines the rights, duties, privileges, powers, and remedies open to both tenants and landlords.
Here are some of the rights open to Tenants and Landlords as covered by the Tenancy Law in Nigeria, today.
RIGHT TO ISSUANCE OF RECEIPT OF PAYMENT
The receipt of payment is an acknowledgment from a Landlord or an Agent that a rent payment has been made by a tenant. It must contain the name of the Landlord and the Tenant. The amount paid and the date of such payment. The property for which such payment is made, the duration that such payment will cover, and the receiver’s signature must also be on the receipt.
It is an actionable offense to refuse to issue a receipt for rent paid and received. It is your right as a tenant to be issued a receipt upon payment of rent. Where the payment is only a part of a whole, it should also be receipted and stated.
Remember a written agreement endorsed by the landlord before a witness that he has received rent from his tenant will suffice. No matter how familiar, friendly, corporate, and caring your landlord is, please always demand receipts of your paid rents to safeguard your tomorrow.
RIGHT TO A VALID QUIT NOTICE
A tenant cannot be thrown out of his apartment unless there is strict compliance by the landlord with relevant Recovery of Premises Law.
Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid “quit notice” of a landlord’s intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served to the tenant. The amount of time given to the tenant, whether weekly, monthly, yearly, depends on his rent. Thus it is advised that a tenant thoroughly read through the Tenancy Agreement before signing as some might even sign away their rights for a ‘quit notice’. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse in law.
A valid “Quit Notice” must contain the name of the landlord, the name of the tenant, the address of the property occupied by the tenant, the duration given to the tenant included.
RIGHT TO A WRITTEN AGREEMENT
Every tenant no matter his status or location in Nigeria has the right to an agreement. Agreements, on the other hand, can be oral or written. However, it is advised that agreements between both parties should be written, hence, any altercations would be easily dealt with, and it comes in handy as references.
The tenant is expected to go through the agreements thoroughly before signing.
Tenancy agreements contain in detail the names of a landlord and his tenant; as parties to the Tenancy Agreement.
The land or house to be rented out ought to be described in detail; showing its location and basic features. The duration of the tenancy, the rent payable and the date at which such rent would become payable should be stated.
The modalities for reviewing rent price (price increment) should be included. Before signing any agreement, a prospective tenant is advised to seek the service of a solicitor to break down any unclear terms in the Tenancy Agreement.
RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ENJOYMENT OF PROPERTY
When a tenant pays his rent and is issued a receipt, the landlord grants him the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property. Once this is done, he determines the entrance, usage, safety and can even sue for trespass against any trespasser; strangers, landlord, and his agents. The landlord, however, can supervise and maintain the property generally, but with the knowledge of the tenant and within reasonable hours of the day.
Section 7 of the law states that tenants are to comply with the tenancy agreement which includes paying their rent on time to avoid problems, they are also expected to behave in the right manner, they are to take consent from the landlord before fixing up any structural damage on any part of the building, subletting and alterations.
RIGHT NOT TO REIMBURSE A TENANT
Most times, the tenant feels the landlord owes him after making repairs in the house and this often leads to disagreements. According to the law, the landlord has the right not to reimburse a tenant.
They are only required to reimburse a tenant when the repair is covered in their initial agreement. This is why before signing the Tenancy Agreement both parties should decide who repairs what and what.
RIGHT TO REVIEW RENT
Every landlord is in business and the aim is definitely to make profits. A landlord can decide to increase his Tenancy rate if he wishes. Though it must be in line with the ‘Rent Review Clause’.
However, the new increment does not affect a tenant during an existing tenancy.
RIGHT NOT TO ISSUE A QUIT NOTICE
Evictions in Nigeria mostly tend to be worrisome, as many Landlords have experienced Tenants flouting court orders after the exhaustion of “Quit Notice” and it seems the only language most complies with is force. An action every civil society should frown upon.
According to laws, a Landlord has the right to issue a “Quit Notice” and also a right not to issue one. For Instance, when a tenant has waived his right to a quit notice while signing the tenancy agreement. Or when the tenant has breached a written agreement.
Such as using a property rented for residential purposes for commercial purposes or a situation whereby a tenant doesn’t pay three (3) months’ rent in a row. Whichever the case is, the landlord is still required by law to issue a Seven Day to Recover Premises.
RIGHT TO A COMPULSORY (7) SEVEN DAYS NOTICE TO RECOVER PREMISES
The protection given to a tenant by the Nigerian Tenancy Law prevents Landlords to evict an occupant without issuing a “Seven Days’ Notice to Recover”.
The “Seven (7) Days’ Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises” is a notice from a landlord’s lawyer notifying a tenant upon whom a “Quit Notice” had been served and same had expired; that the lawyer will after seven (7) days from the date of the service of the Notice proceed to court to recover the over- held premises on behalf of the landlord.
Discussed above are some of the rights of a tenant covered by Nigerian law. And as laws are protecting the tenant, the landlord has laws protecting his rights under Nigerian law too. Below are some of the Rights of a Landlord in Nigeria.