The promulgation of the Lagos tenancy law of 2011 came as respite for tenants who had been suffering in the hands of shylock landlords who had become excessive and brutal in their demands.
The Law was set up to regulate rights and obligations under tenancy agreements and the relationship between the landlord and the tenant including the procedure for the recovery of premises and for connected purposes. This law which applies to all premises within Lagos State including business and residential premises however exempts residences owned by educational institutions for its staff and students, those provided for emergency shelter, residential premises in a care or hospice facility, in a public or private hospital or a mental health facility. Law courts have also be given jurisdiction to determine matters in respect of the tenancy of any premises let – a jurisdiction which shall not be ousted by the defendant or respondent setting up the title of any other party.
The parties’ agreement to resort to Court connected Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or other faci1ities such as the Lagos Multi-Door Court House or to the Citizens Mediation Centre for amicable dispute resolution shall not however be construed as an ouster of Court’s jurisdiction, while proceedings shall be brought under this Law at the High Court where the rental value of the premises exceeds the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Court as provided by the Magistrates’ Courts Law. Subject to the provisions of this Law, a Court shall be bound by the practice and procedure in civil matters in the Magistrates’ Court or the High Court of Lagos State. A tenancy agreement shall for the purposes of this Law, be deemed to exist where premises are granted by the landlord to a person for value whether or not it is; express or implied, oral or written or partly oral or partly written or for a fixed period. Also, it shall be unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant, rent in excess of six months from a monthly tenant and one year from a yearly tenant in respect of any premises without prejudice to the nature of tenancy held at the commencement of the tenancy, a sitting tenant cannot offer or pay rent in excess of one year for a yearly tenant and six months for a monthly tenant in respect of any premises then a landlord or his agent cannot demand or receive from a new or would be tenant rent in excess of one year in respect of any premises.
Furthermore, it shall be unlawful for a new or would be tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of one year in respect of any premises, any person who receives or pays rent in excess of what is prescribed in this Section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira or to three months imprisonment. All landlords are required by law to issue a rent payment receipt to their tenants upon payment of rent in respect of such payments. The receipt shall state the; date on which rent was received, names and addresses of the landlord and the tenant, description and location of premises in respect of which the rent is paid, among other things. Any landlord who errs contrary to the provisions of the law shall be liable on conviction to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira. The law offers tenant’s entitlement to quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the Premises. This includes; privacy, freedom from unreasonable disturbance, exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlord’s restricted right of inspection; and the use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purpose.
On the issue of eviction, where there is a breach or non-observance of any of the conditions or covenants in respect of the premises as stated in the tenancy law, the landlord shall subject the tenant to:
(a) a week’s notice for a tenant at will;
(b) one month’s notice for a monthly tenant;
(c) three months notice for a quarterly tenant;
(d) three months notice for a half-yearly tenant; and
(e) six months notice for a yearly tenant
In addition, a premises will be deemed to be abandoned where the tenancy has expired and the tenant has not occupied the premises since the tenancy expired and has not given up lawful possession of the premises.
These are the salient parts of the Lagos State Tenancy Law. Tenants are urged to know their rights but should not fall foul of the law either.