Landlord and tenant”s rights and obligations
The fact that you live in a house does not mean you are a Tenant. You could be a Tenant at Will (When you are in default of Rent), a Licensee or Squatter! Here are some germane Tenancy Tips, before you give out or enter that Apartment :
1. As a Tenant, always insist on receipts being issued to you after every payment made by you, some Landlords make spurious claims when the matter gets to Court.
2. As a Landlord always insist on payment of caution fees, before you give a Tenant an apartment, in case of any damage to your property.
3. Avoid paying Rents in bits and pieces, it makes you less protected in Law, alters your Tenancy and makes it easier for you to be evicted!
4. As a Landlord, make sure you give your Lawyer or Agent, Authority to Act, if it was your Lawyer or Agent, that will give Seven Days Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises to your Tenant, failure of which the process is void!
5. A Notice to Quit must expire on the eve of the anniversary of the Current Term. That is to say, if you were to give Quit Notice for a yearly Tenant that will expire on the 1st of January, the Notice must expire on the 31st of December! Anything short of this, the Notice to Quit is null and void!
6. A yearly Tenant is entitled to Six Month’s Notice, A half-yearly Tenant (6 months), is entitled to 3 Month’s Notice, the Law is silent on a quarterly Tenant. A monthly tenant is entitled to one month’s Notice. A Tenant at Will is entitled to Seven Day’s Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises. A Licensee is entitled to Seven Day’s Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises. A Squatter is not entitled to any Notices whatsoever!
7. Always keep a comprehensive database of all your Tenants and be sure of their work, business and activities, you will need those information, one day!
8. When a Tenancy Matter is to get to Court, make sure you involve a Lawyer early enough, it is a technical issue
9. When a Tenant has been issued Notice to quit, he becomes a Statutory Tenant and will still pay the same sum paid as Rent, now called Mesne Profit, when the case is in Court or when the Notice has been issued. There is no law that says, when you are issued a Notice, or a Tenancy Matter is in Court, you no longer pay rent! Are you now the Owner of the House?
10. Never allow your Rent to be in arrears, it makes you a Tenant at Will and it will be far easier for you to be evicted!
11. Always insist on a comprehensive agreement! Write everything in black and white. Do not take anything for granted. Read the Agreement very well before signing, once you have signed you are bound by the terms! You can not resile unless you sign a new Agreement!
12. If you are a yearly tenant and you pay half of your rent, you have altered your tenancy, to a half-yearly tenancy! It is your mode of Payment that ultimately determines your tenancy, not what you signed to.
13. Your Landlord has no right to determine how many persons can stay in your apartment, he can not tell you to ask someone to leave, because his soak away chambers, is about to get filled, that in itself is an infraction as the Landlord, according to the law is to allow the tenant peaceable possession. Possession is nine-tenths of the Law! You can own a house and still can not get possession if the Matter lingered in Court.
14. Avoid asking for three years rent and above, because once you did that you have changed the colouration of the relationship with your tenant to a Lease! A Lease is a complex relationship that involves diverse covenants that are difficult to sever! In a Lease, the Lessee is entitled to one year Notice.
15. It is in your interest as a Landlord to resolve Tenancy Matters.out of Court, as much as possible, because the Law in Nigeria is skewed in favour of the Tenant, who is well protected by Law! Cases can linger in Court for years, you will end up spending money and getting not much in return! A Tenancy Matter can even get to the Supreme Court and while there, the Tenant will still be in possession!
16. As a Landlord, make the Tenancy Agreement as flexible as possible, for you to sever your relationship with your tenant!
17. Make sure you create an ascertainable method of the payment of utility bills, well spelt out in an Agreement, to avoid arguments and issues!
18. Get a Lawyer at the Agreement stage, many people save less at the beginning of an issue and pay more later, because they do not want to pay a Lawyer! The issues are very complex and technical in nature! You require Legal Expertise at the beginning to fathom tenancy issues!
19. Capture the issue of alteration of your apartment and sub-letting of same comprehensively in an Agreement, to avoid issues!
20. A Notice to Quit must be issued within calendar months. That is to say, it must run from the beginning of a Month and expire at the end of a Month also! 1st to 30th or 31st.
A Notices to Quit can not expire for examples, on the 5th or 21st of any month! That Notice to Quit is null and void, ab intio (from the beginning)