The Legal Processes of Premises Recovery in Lagos (1)

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AKHIGBE

By Akhigbe Dominic M.

WED, 3 AUGUST 2016-One neck-breaking experience landlords and Property Managers want to run away from is the experience of Property recovery from a recalcitrant tenant. To a good number of Landlords and property managers; the Lagos State Tenancy Law, 2011 seems to fuel this experience as the Law is viewed to have empowered Tenants even the more. However, what the state intended to achieve was to basically strike a balance and mitigate the harrowing experiences of tenants in the hands of shylock Landlords who had hitherto trampled on the rights of the tenants so brazenly while attempting to recover their premises. From the views of the descents; the law actually gave the entire property management process a human face and eliminated past irregularities.

Today, our various Magistrate and High Courts are littered with plethora of Landlord-Tenant Conflicts that may have been avoided if the right steps were taken; or, at best, if Professionals were engaged to broker the transaction ab-initio. By the time the badly managed Rental Contracts boomerang, the courts are left to resolve the fall-outs. The implication of this is that, scarce resources are depleted by both parties for the war of legal supremacy. On popular demand and as a natural flow; I have decided to do this as a follow-up to ‘the quintentiality of the Tenancy Agreement’ which ran for over two previous editions.

We will always use Lagos State as our benchmark when dealing with topical issues like this. Not only is the state a microscopic Nigeria; it has also been found to have a very robust Legislative and Legal systems that serve as a template for other states of the Federation as well as the Nation Nigeria.

In the course of examining this issue, the Lagos State Tenancy Act, 2011 will provide us with some Authority on the Statutorily necessary steps a Landlord is expected to observe to recover a premises from a sitting Tenant. In any case of Recovery, there has to be:

Service of Notice to Quit:

Notice to Quit an apartment is a statutory requirement. This is a formal termination of tenancy for all forms of Let or Rent. A Notice to Quit is also required even if the Tenancy is for a term Certain. A Notice To Quit must be explicit and should address very important and specific information such as; the description of the premises to be vacated, the location of the Premises, the commencement and the expiration of the Tenancy. The length of the Notice to Quit depends on the type of Tenancy.

Pursuant to Section 13 (1) of the Lagos State Tenancy Law of 2011, the lengths of the Quit Notices are as follow:

  1. A Tenant-at-Will is One Week Notice
  2. A Monthly Tenant is One Month Notice
  3. A Quarterly Tenant is Three Months Notice
  4. A Half-yearly Tenant is Three Months Notice
  5. A Yearly Tenant is Six Months Notice.

Specifically; the Law requires that the Notice to Quit is either served by the Landlord in his capacity or by his assigned Property Agent or Solicitor who must possess a Letter of Authority from the Landlord to do so. The Notice to Quit is expected to at least expire at a time not less than the Eve of the determination date of the tenancy. At the expiration of this Notice to Quit and deliver up Possession, if the Tenant declines and refuses to deliver up possession of the property; the same Section 13 (1) expects the Landlord to give a further Seven (7) Days of Owners Intention To Apply To The Court to Recover Possession. Proceeding to Recover Premises must not be any date earlier than the last date of the Seven Days Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises.

The Notice is expected to state Claims and grounds for claims. If the ground for Recovery is of Rent in Arrears; such would have been so as follows: Arrears of Rent default for Six Months in the case of A Monthly Tenant; Arrears of One Year in the case of Quarterly or Half Yearly Tenant. In either circumstance, the Tenancy shall lapse and the Court is expected to make an Order for Possession and payment of Arrears of Rent if the Arrears are sufficiently proven by the Landlord before the trial judge or magistrate.

………to be continued.

Akhigbe is a consultant in Real Estate & an investment portfolio manager and a seasoned Nigerian Micro, Small & Medium Scale Business Coach. Contact:08034846284

DCSL 90X780

4 COMMENTS

    • Mr. Akache, thanks for your regular contributions. The law is clear on Issuance of Quit Notices to a Sitting tenant. Section 13 of the Lagos State tenancy Act is very apt on this. The law frowns at such practice.

  1. Why are the Magistrate’s Courts frowning at Notice of Preliminary Objections on Recovery of Premises matters. In my case, the Magistrate expressed her bias and referred my matter back to the Registrar for re-assignment.

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