The Law gives us certain basic rights as individuals in all aspects of our lives. One very critical set of laws, often unknown by many, are the rights available to tenants and landlords. These rights however differ depending on the type of tenancy agreement reached between the landlord and tenant. Find below the rights of a tenant and landlord in Nigeria.
Rights of a tenant in Nigeria
Freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
Harassment can come in a number of ways including infringing on your personal space or disrupting your basic amenities in the compound without any legal cause.
Illegal eviction includes any attempt to make you leave your home when the correct legal procedure has not been carried out. Harassment and illegal eviction are both criminal offences. Anyone found guilty of harassment or illegal eviction can be imprisoned or fined.
Right to a rent book
Every tenant has the right to a rent book. A rent book should include; the landlord’s address and name, the amount of rent, if you have to pay rates and how much rates you pay, when you have to pay rent, etc.
Right to peaceful enjoyment of property
Once the rent is paid and the necessary documents signed, every Tennant has the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property. The tenant can enter and exit the property at will and enjoy fully the utilities the property has to offer. The tenant thus have no reason to overly tremble before his landlord or venerate him/her.
Right to fair hearing
The 1999 Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2011) in its fullness and supremacy has provided all persons in Nigeria with some inalienable Fundamental Human Rights of which one of them is a Right to Fair Hearing. No person (tenant) can be tried in a competent court without his/her own part of the matter being heard before judgement is passed. So no tenant can be evicted by court without hearing from the tenant.
Right to a compulsory (7) seven days notice to recover premises
Because the tenant is protected by the Nigerian tenancy law, the landlord cannot just ask the tenant to quit 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 the Nigerian law. And as there are laws protecting the tenant, the landlord has laws protecting his rights under the Nigerian law too. Below are some of the rights of a landlord in Nigeria.
Right to sue landlord for trespass
A tenant has the right to sue a landlord who pays deaf ears to the provisions of the law and goes on to throw out him out. The above detailed procedures are not mere academic literature rather valid and subsisting procedure for the eviction of tenants in any part of Nigeria. Once a tenant is in occupation of premises then he has all rights over the premises and the law will not allow his landlord to trespass against such.
The court will not hesitate to slam the hammer on a landlord that throws the laws to the winds. Let a tenant seek remedy in court by consulting a lawyer. He should equally complain to the Nigerian Police of such trespass, to investigate such and prosecute the landlord for criminal trespass. All persons are equal before the law and a landlord is not in any degree a master or lord unto his tenant; not a “tenant-lord”
Rights of a landlord in Nigeria
Right not to issue a quit notice
Amazingly Landlords have the right not to issue a notice of quit to their tenants. Instances, when a landlord can decide not to issue a ‘quit notice’, are; where a tenant contradicts a written term or condition of his tenancy agreement; where a tenant has been in debt of arrears of rent for three (3) consecutive months, he requires no “Notice to Quit”. The 3 months must be together and not having a new paid month(s) in between them. The rent must have been demanded for by the landlord or his agents. And where a term, tenure, duration of tenancy has expired and a new one is not renewed a landlord need not serve a “Notice to Quit” on his tenant. Whichever the case is, the landlord is still required by law to issue a Seven Day to Recover Premises.
Right to renew tenancy
A landlord has every right to renew his tenancy with an old tenant or seek out a new one. No tenant has the right to force himself or herself on a landlord to renew the tenancy agreement most landlords use this right to offload a non compliant tenant and seek out more compliant ones. Hence, a landlord can only renew tenancy for his good old desirous tenants.
All landlords should include their rights to renew tenancy in their tenancy agreements. A “Tenancy Renewal Clause” should contain the time within which a tenant can apply to his landlord for renewal and also the mode of such application.
Right to review rent
Every landlord is in for business and aim is definitely to make profits. And because everything is constant to change except change itself. A landlord can decide to increase is tenancy rate if he wishes. Though it must be in line in the range agreed in the ‘Rent Review Clause’. However, the new increment does not affect a tenant during an existing tenancy, but would take effect at the end of that current tenancy agreement and the start of a new one.
Right not to reimburse a tenant
A Landlord only is obliged, by right, to reimburse a tenant for repairs to the property if it was drafted in the original tenancy agreement. Thus, repairs carried out by a tenant without a suitable tenancy agreement in place are the responsibility of the tenant and not the landlord. Thus, often times when tenants demand reimbursement for repairs made from the landlord, it goes against the law and thus the landlord is not obliged to pay.