RIGHTS OF A TENANT IN NIGERIA.

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♯4: RIGHT TO A VALID NOTICE TO QUIT.

 Generally, going by the dictates of our law no landlord can evict his tenant whether he is in debt or not by throwing him out of his premises.  The legislatures in consideration of our conservative Land Use Act have enacted series of tenants-friendly Acts and laws.  A tenant cannot be thrown out of his apartment unless there is a strict compliance by his landlord with of relevant Recovery of Premises Law.

Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid “Notice to Quit” (Quit Notice) of a landlord’s intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served on the tenant. The law went on to provide durations for “Notice to Quit” for varying tenancies. It provides that a one (1) year or above tenancy will require at least a six (6) months notice.  Monthly tenancy requires one (1) month notice while a weekly notice requires one (1) week notice. Note that by tenancy agreements the landlord and tenant can agree on a different duration for Notice to Quit. By the agreement of both parties a yearly tenancy for which the law provides a six (6) months “Notice to Quit” can be reduced to a week or a month notice. Some tenants can even sign to a tenancy to be evicted without a “Notice to Quit”. The law honours and respects the agreements of parties and will implement it to the last of letters.

A diligent tenant before agreeing and signing to a tenancy agreement should carefully read and understand in details the provisions of his agreement documents. Better still, the service of a lawyer can be sought to help in perusing and interpreting the contents of the agreement. Remember the law does not and will not care to know that a tenant did not understand or never knew the law before signing his agreement; “ignorantio legis non excuse” (ignorance of the law is no excuse). When a tenant signs a lawful agreement that limit his rights he will be bound by such same agreement; “violentia non fit injuria”. And such party cannot be allowed to plead that he never signed such agreement (non est factum).

Please, do note that when a tenant owes his landlord for (3) three consecutive months, the landlord can dispense with the issuance of a “Notice to Quit” on such tenant. Where tenancy has expired by time and there is no new and subsisting tenancy, the landlord can also recover his property without issuing a “Notice to Quit”, although he is expected to adhere to other conditions.

A valid “Notice to Quit” must contain the name of the landlord, the name of the tenant, the address of the property occupied by the tenant, date the notice will commence and date it will end. It must not end when a tenancy is still running and valid. Such notice must be calculated in a way that it ends on the eve of the anniversary of a subsisting tenancy, for yearly tenancies. Where it is a monthly tenancy it must expire on day of the anniversary of a subsisting tenancy.  A “Notice to Quit” that those not contain all the above necessary information, can be vitiated by a court of competent jurisdiction. A tenant who is not clear on the contents of any Notice served him should see his/her lawyer.

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