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Lagos Tenancy Law: An overview

In this article I am going to be looking at the new Lagos Tenancy Law 2011, which is the guideline for all transactions in real estate pertaining to landlord and tenant matters. My pledge to you is to take you on a learning ride and understanding of these laws as much as possible and in the most nonprofessional terms I can muster.

Do not turn away at this point thinking, “what’s my business with Lagos laws or even the law generally? Let the lawyers feed on it”. You see that’s where we sometimes miss it, we ignore these laws and as a result, we flout them repeatedly, are cheated and sometimes punished for not been aware. Whose fault?

Remember ignorance is not an excuse in law. Here’s what I will do on Nigeria Real Estate Hub. I bring this law to you first by giving it out as free e-book download. This way you can refer to it as experts and players in the industry comment on it.

Rest assured I would conduct interviews with lawyers, Agents, Landlords, Real Estate practitioners, and one of the most important of the group_ Tenants to gather views, opinions and criticism of the law and its application.

To that effect, I will in this article begin this journey by broadly previewing what the new Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 is all about. The Lagos State Tenancy Law, which was signed into law in August 2011, repeals the Rent Tribunals (Abolition and Transfer of Functions) Law 2007. It is described as “a law 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 other connected purposes in Lagos State”.

Take a look at the whole of Section one(1):

1. Application of Law.

(1) This Law shall apply to all premises within Lagos State, including business and residential premises unless otherwise specified.

(2) This Law shall not apply to –

(a) Residential premises owned or operated by an educational institution for its staff and       students;

(b) Residential premises provided for emergency shelter;

(c) Residential premises –

(i) in a care or hospice facility;

(ii) in a public or private hospital or a mental health facility; and

(d) that is made available in the course of providing rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment.

(3) The following areas:

(i) Apapa;

(ii) Ikeja GRA;

(iii) Ikoyi; and

(iv) Victoria Island

are exempted from the application of this Law, however, the Governor may from time to time by Order published in the State Official Gazette exempt the application of this Law to any other area or premises in the State.

The Lagos Tenancy Law has aroused considerable public interest since its enactment, much of which surrounds the issue of advanced rent, which the law prohibits. Section 4 of the new Law makes it unlawful for a landlord to demand or receive any rent in excess of one year from a sitting yearly tenant, six (6) months from a sitting monthly tenant and one year from a new or a would be tenant. It is also unlawful for new and sitting tenants to offer to pay rents in excess of one year.

The penalty for violating this provision is a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira or three (3) months imprisonment. How much of this is working in Lagos state today? We will find out.

Renowned legal practitioner Barrister Valentine Buoro is concerned about the practicality of certain aspects of the new laws and expressed it as well as offered a way out of it at a recent seminar geared at educating the public on landlord and tenancy issues held at REALTY POINT LTD Lagos. It was a robust and educative session where varied views on the landlord and tenancy relationship surfaced. I will relay excerpts from this seminar to you in subsequent write up.

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