By Akhigbe Dominic.M.
MON, MAY 15 2017- “Law to regulate rights and obligations under tenancy agreements and the relationship between the landlord and the tenant including the procedure for recovery of premises and for connected purposes” was enacted on 5th August, 2011 and signed by the state governor on 24th August, 2011. At the time before then, Lagos was a battle field where the strong survived and the weak died. Sorts of shenanigans were at play. We even had very ugly situations where Tenants were arraigned by proxy and judgments obtained. The situation was ugly and very nauseating. Looking back; it I would say it is a new day with some sense of caution.
Tenancy has become one of the most contentious in human record. A visit to any court in Nigeria would reveal that Tenancy disputes occupy enviable position in the day to day routine of the courts. One therefore wonders if Tenancy Agreements have lost their usefulness or; Parties have the penchants for setting aside the provisions of the Tenancy Agreement in favor of needless litigations. We however discovered that parties to Tenancy contract barely take their time to study the Provisions of the Agreement as prepared (by a lawyer in most cases) or seek professional interpretation of the provisions of the Agreements so made in respect of the Tenancy before appending same. In the cause of time, such indolence rubs on their faces; where the situation is not properly managed; parties rush to the courts to see interpretation.
We would extensively rely on the Lagos Tenancy Law in driving home our points here. The Lagos State Tenancy Law that came into force in August 2014 took very extensive look at the various grey areas that had hitherto provided ingredients for Tenancy Crises and made very robust effort at addressing those areas. For instance; the huge headache of paying two years rent by would-be tenants and renewal of same was decisively dealt with in Section 4 (1-5) of the Lagos Tenancy Law 2011. The provisions here are very explicitly clear. The bane has been the penchant by unprofessionally minded persons to circumvent the law by taking advantage of its seeming dark points.
In 2016, a Client called to inform me that he had just been given a SEVEN DAY NOTICE to vacate and deliver up possession of an Apartment he occupied on Lagos Mainland as a yearly tenant. He went further to remind me that; as a yearly tenant, he was entitled to SIX MONTHS notice should the Landlord intend to recover his premises. I told him I would be unable to make any comment on that till I see the Tenancy Agreement they he signed. A few hours later, he forwarded a soft copy of same to me. After going through the Agreement; I found out that he was actually on TERM CERTAIN. The Tenancy got determined by the Effluxion as provided for in Sections 12, 13 & 26 of The Lagos Tenancy Act 2011. I called him back to inform him that the Landlord was in order. He was shocked.
To be continued
Akhigbe Dominic.M. Esq., /Property Law Expert/CEO, H.I.E Properties & Homes Ltd/SENIOR STRATEGIC PARTNER, PropertyLogic Incorporated/Seasoned Business Coach/Columnist of The BusinessDay/Contributing Editor,govandbusinessjournal.com.ng <http://govandbusinessjournal.com.ng>*