How Lagos tenancy law makes it easy for landlords to evict tenants
Unknown to many landlords in Lagos, the tenancy Laws of Lagos State, which came into force on August 24, 2011, has proved a panacea for the rising cases of disputes arising from tenants’ inability to pay rents.
Section 13 subsection (1) of the tenancy law also prescribes the length of notice to be given where there is no agreement between the landlord and the tenant to determine the tenancy, which are; a week’s notice for a tenant at will, one month’s notice for a monthly tenant, three months’ notice for a half- yearly tenant and six months’ notice for a yearly tenant.
However, sub section (2) of section 13 further provides that in the case of a monthly tenancy, where the tenant is in arrears of rent for six months, the tenancy shall lapse, in other words, there would be no need for a landlord to issue a notice to quit on the tenant; what will be issued is a seven-day notice of owner’s intention to recover possession.
According to a senior state counsel at the Directorate of Public Prosecution in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs Bola Akinsete,
Section 13(5) of the Tenancy Law, Chapter TI, Vol.10, Laws of Lagos State 2015 allows landlord to give a tenant seven-day notice of intention to recover possession as in Form TL5 in the schedule to this Law.
She, however, said such is only applicable in a tenancy which has a fixed term.“Once a tenancy has fixed term, it only requires seven-day notice after serving an intention to recover possession, the landlord will then file a claim in a Magistrate court and the court bailiff will serve
same on the tenant.
After service trial will begin where the tenant and the landlord are expected to adopt their written addresses before the court will give
judgment on the matter.
The Sherriff will execute the judgment, especially when the tenure has expired or the tenants are unable to pay rents. This, she said, is different from the previous practice where the landlord is required to serve a six-month quit notice after which he starts with the seven-day notice of intention to recover possession.
“It is made to quicken the process in view of the court congestion and it must be on fixed tenure. We advise landlord to have a fixed tenure in their agreement in order to quicken the process. The law was enacted in 2011 but full compilation of all Lagos laws was done in 2015.”
Former chairman, NBA Ikeja branch, Monday Onyekachi Ubani said the law has reduced cases of getting judgment behind the tenants as it criminalises it. According to him, before now, the abnormal experience of getting judgments behind the back was rampant that tenants did not even know there was a process in the court before court Sheriffs bounce on their property.
The law has also ensure the entrenchment of the culture of one year rent. Though, it is not yet eliminated but at 90 per cent compliance with it attendant effect on increment on rents.
For Silas Udoh, a property lawyer, this provision, he argued renders the law weak ineffective and sometimes unenforceable.
Udoh also said that the law did not favour the poor as the seven days quit notice for the recovering of property only target the poor, who rents one or two rooms but did not apply for duplex and flats rents, which still require six months notice.
For the law to be effective, Uhe said punishments should be one sided not both the payer and receiver, who receive same punishment.
The Chairman Lagos branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Mr. Samuel Ukpong told The Guardian that the rising cases of landlords and tenants rift have affected investment in the residential property market.
Ukpong noted that the tenancy law earlier backed the tenants to the detriment of the property investors, which in the long run affected the nation’s housing stock.
He foresee the law aiding the landlords to evict tenants and increasing confidence of property owners on estate agents.