RIGHTS OF A LANDLORD IN NIGERIA.

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4.      RIGHT TO ISSUE A NOTICE TO QUIT.

One of the greatest powers of a landlord is “right to rent and un-rent” his property. He has the right to hire and fire a tenant. No willing tenant can force himself or herself on the property of an unwilling landlord. Put it this way, every landlord has a right to say NO. But in saying or doing such, a landlord must do it within the provisions of the prevailing tenancy agreement and laws. The first step towards the removal of a tenant is the service of “Notice to Quit” (popularly termed “Quit Notice”). Generally, the law allows a tenant and his landlord to agree as to rent, duration of rent and notices to be issued. Hence, both can agree that the tenant be issued no “Notice to Quit” at all or a “Notice to Quit”, that is shorter than the statutorily provided periods. Since tenants are often desperate to sign agreements and pack into buildings, shylock landlords add draconic terms that may even waive tenants’ right to be issued a notice to quit. But where a landlord and his tenant fail to agree as to the duration of a notice to quit in their agreement, the law will take its course. Going by the law, where there is no tenancy agreement as to notice to quit, a landlord is to issue 6 months notice to quit for a yearly tenancy or a tenancy above one year and 1 month notice to quit for a monthly tenancy.  Finally, a week tenancy requires one week notice to quit while a daily tenancy requires a day notice to quit. Where a landlord and his tenant failed to agree on the type of tenancy to run and the court would determine such through the periods for demand and payment of rent.

Landlords can serve valid “notice to quit” on their tenants without the aid of lawyers. A notice to quit cannot be orally delivered rather it must be written. A written notice to quit must contain the name of the landlord and his tenant. Address of the house/property, duration of the notice and date of expiration must be included in a notice to quit.  Writing of a notice to quit is not an exclusive work of a lawyer, a landlord, his caretakers, estate managers and other agents can do such. A landlord must calculate and serve such notice to end on the eve of the anniversary of the subsisting tenancy of his tenant. Hence, for a tenancy that would end on 31st of August 2011, its valid notice to quit must end latest on the eve of 31st August 2011 for if it crosses over to 1st of September it would be invalid. A notice to quit that runs into a new tenancy period is invalid. A landlord must make sure his notice to quit is served personally on his tenant while an acknowledged copy of service of same is collected from the tenant. Please note that refusal to collect or receive rent is not a Notice to Quit. Even the acceptance of arrears of rent or rent itself from a tenant does not put an end to a subsisting notice to quit served on. A landlord need not issue a notice to quit to a tenant that has owed rent for 3 consecutive months or whose tenancy has expired or who has contradicted any of the conditions and terms of tenancy. For the sake of the above technicality, a landlord should engage the service of a lawyer.

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