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The Legal Framework Protecting the Rights of Tenants in Lagos

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TENANCY LAW

In Lagos, Tenancy Law is a set of regulations that coordinates the relationships between landlords and tenants and ensures that the rights of the two parties are not infringed upon. Tenancy law sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties in renting out a property or premises, such as who has access to what parts of the building, how much rent should be paid, when bills need to be paid on time, and so on.

It also covers issues such as repossession of a rented property by landlords if the tenant breaches rules, eviction notices given to tenants for non-payment of rent or other reasons, etc.

Flowing from above, it is evident that you need to properly understand the Law of tenancy before signing up for a rental agreement in Lagos. Therefore, let’s explore some key points about Lagos Tenancy Law so you can know your rights as a tenant in this region. 

An Overview of Tenancy Laws in Lagos

Tenancy law in Lagos is a complex set of regulations designed to protect tenants and landlords. As a tenant, you have certain rights under the law, such as the right to a safe and healthy living environment, and landlords must abide by these rights. Tenancy laws border rent payments, security deposits, repairs, and maintenance issues.

Through the Rent Control Board of Lagos State, tenants also have the right to contest arbitrary rent hikes. In addition, tenants should anticipate that their security deposits will be reimbursed within a reasonable time after they vacate and that any damage they caused will be repaired expeditiously.

Lagos’s tenancy rules mandate that the landlords perform routine maintenance and keep the property compliant. Lagos’s tenancy rules are intended to safeguard both tenants and landlords. As a tenant, you can expect your landlord to provide a safe, comfortable, and secure living environment. Similarly, landlords should be able to rely on early rent payment and resolution of tenant complaints.

The tenancy rules in Lagos are derived from several sources, including the Nigerian Civil Code and local government legislation.

Tenancy Law Act

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The Tenancy Law Act (TLA) is the main legal document governing tenancy law in Lagos State. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants, such as how much rent must be paid, what kinds of security deposits are required, when rental agreements must be made in writing, how disputes must be handled, and other important matters.

Tenancy Tribunal Act

The Tenancy Tribunal Act (TTA) is an additional legal document that ensures the rights of tenants and landlords are respected by giving tenants access to a Tenancy Tribunal. This tribunal has the power to hear disputes between landlords and tenants and can issue binding orders to both parties.

In addition to these two acts, regulations govern specific aspects of tenancy law in Lagos, such as housing standards, rent control, incentives for new tenants, eviction procedures, and lots more.

Lagos State Monthly Rental Scheme

Going further, Lagos State Government has introduced a unique monthly rental scheme to help people unable to purchase their homes. This scheme, the first of its kind in Nigeria, allows renters to pay for their rent in monthly instalments rather than one lump sum upfront. The scheme also allows renters to pay less than market value on their monthly rent and provides more flexibility for those who may not have the resources to pay a large amount of money upfront for yearly rent. 

The monthly rental scheme is designed to help individuals who may otherwise be unable to afford a home in Lagos State, such as those on limited incomes or those with bad credit ratings due to past financial difficulties. The scheme is part of a larger initiative by the Lagos State government to help improve access to housing for all its residents. It has already seen great success in helping those who may otherwise be unable to afford their homes. This is a wonderful example of how governments can take steps to ensure that all people can access the housing they need. 

Overall, Lagos State’s monthly rental scheme is a great way to help improve access to housing and make it more affordable for those who may not have been able to purchase their own homes previously. It exemplifies how governments can work with private businesses and individuals to create better opportunities for all. 

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Possession in Tenancy Law

Possession is a fundamental right of a tenant, and the landlord should provide the tenant exclusive possession of the property during the lease term.

Landlord’s Duty to Provide Possession

The landlord must provide possession of the premises to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. This means that the property should be available for the tenant to move in on the agreed-upon start date of the tenancy.

Tenant’s Duty to Maintain Possession

Once possession is given to the tenant, they must maintain exclusive possession of the property. This means that the tenant must not abandon the property and must take reasonable steps to prevent damage.

Eviction for Non-payment of Rent

Eviction is a lawful process that a landlord can initiate if the tenant fails to pay rent within an agreed-upon period. The landlord may also initiate eviction proceedings for other reasons, such as breach of the lease agreement, illegal activities, etc. 

However, the landlord must give the tenant an eviction notice and allow them a certain period to vacate the property. The tenant may challenge the eviction if they believe it is wrongful or unlawful. 

Eviction for Breach of Lease

A landlord may also be able to evict a tenant for breach of the lease agreement and might want a recovery of possession. This could include subletting without permission, using the property for commercial purposes (where the rent was only for residential purposes), damaging the property, or engaging in illegal activity.

Right to Quiet Enjoyment

The tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the property, which means the landlord cannot interfere with the tenant’s possession. This includes entering the property without notice or permission, turning off utilities, or making excessive noise.

It is important to note that tenancy laws can be complex and vary depending on the jurisdiction. It is always a good idea for landlords and tenants to familiarize themselves with the relevant laws and seek legal advice.

Types of Tenancy

Fixed-term Tenancy

This type of tenancy has a specific start and end date; after the agreement with respect ends there will be an expired tenancy. In fixed-term tenancy, the tenant agrees to rent the property for a fixed period, usually six months or a year.

Periodic Tenancy

A periodic tenancy does not have a fixed end date and runs from period to period, usually month to month or week to week. The tenancy will continue until either the tenant or landlord terminates it with proper notice.

Joint Tenancy

This is when two or more people share a tenancy agreement and are jointly responsible for the rent and other obligations under the agreement.

Individual Tenancy

This is when one person holds the tenancy agreement and is solely responsible for paying the rent and fulfilling the obligations under the agreement.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

This type of tenancy gives the landlord the right to regain possession of the property at the end of the tenancy agreement, provided there is previous consent.

Assured Tenancy

An assured tenancy is a type of tenancy that provides the tenant with more security of tenure and restricts the landlord’s ability to end the tenancy.

Rights Available to Tenants as Guaranteed by the Tenancy Law in Nigeria

The Tenancy Law in Lagos provides several protections and rights for tenants. Understanding these rights is essential for tenants to make informed decisions, negotiate with landlords, and assert their legal rights if necessary. As a tenant in Lagos State, you are entitled to certain rights protected under the operation of law by the Tenancy Law Act (TLA) and Tenancy Tribunal Act (TTA).

Right to a Written Agreement

Tenants have the right to a written, valid agreement between them and their landlords that sets out the terms of their tenancy. The Tenancy Law Act requires that this agreement be registered with the Tenancy Registry for it to be legally binding for current and future tenants.

Right to Fair Rent

Tenants have the right to pay a fair rent for their property. The rent payments can not have an unreasonable increase during the tenancy period without a prior notice period and approval from the Landlord Tenant Board or Tenancy Tribunal.

Right to a Safe Place

Tenants have a right to expect safe and hygienic living conditions, paramount to human life. The premises must be safe for the tenants, and the landlords must take reasonable steps to ensure that all relevant provisions regarding the rental units must comply with local health and safety codes.

Right to Privacy

Tenants have the right to privacy without unreasonable disturbance or intolerable nuisance in their rental units and should not be subjected to illegal searches or surveillance by their landlords.

Right to a Hearing

Tenants are entitled to a hearing with the Tenancy Tribunal when they feel that their landlord has acted unlawfully or inappropriately or has to do with illegal purposes, and they wish to dispute any decision made by them.

Right of Pet Ownership

Tenants have the right to keep pets in their residential premises as long as they comply with any conditions with respect to pet policies set out in the Tenancy Agreement.

Right to Issuance of Receipts and Payments

Tenants have the right to be issued a receipt or demand for rent receipt or any rent or security deposit payments made by them. This rent payment receipt and other receipts should include all applicable details, such as the date and amount of payment.

Right to Make Alterations

Tenants have the right to make alterations to their rental units, such as painting or minor renovations, with prior approval from their landlord.

Right to Avail or Refund for Damages

In the operation of law, tenants are entitled to a refund of any security deposits paid when they vacate their rental unit, provided there is no damage caused by them. Landlords must provide an itemized list of deductions (if any) for any action for damages caused for the tenant to avail themselves of this refund

Right to a Valid Quit Notice

Tenants have the right to receive a proper notice which is valid, to quit the house from their landlord for them to vacate the premises properly. This notice must include all applicable legal requirements outlined by Tenancy Law Act.

Right to Notice Premise Recovery Within 7 Days

Tenants have the right to receive a compulsory 7-day notice of intention from their landlord before vacating the premises. This notice must be served according to Tenancy Law Act regulations to be legally valid. Overall, Tenancy Law in Lagos State provides comprehensive protection and rights for tenants and landlords.

Right to Notice of Rent Increment

If the lease agreement is silent on the issue of rent increase, the landlord must give the tenant a minimum of 6 months’ notice before the increase of rent or advance rent.

These are just some of the many legal rights tenants possess in Lagos State, so both landlords and tenants need to be familiar with these laws and ensure that they are followed.

Tenants should also be aware of their rights and seek legal help if they feel that they have been violated. By doing so, tenants can ensure a safe and secure living environment for themselves and their families.

Rights Available to Landlords as Stipulated by the Tenancy Law in Nigeria

As a tenant in Lagos State, you owe certain rights to your landlord, which must be respected to ensure a successful tenancy relationship. Tenancy laws in Lagos require that tenants pay rent on time and in full each month and adhere to other lease terms outlined by the rental agreement. These laws are as follows :

  • Tenants must pay the full rent amount each month on or before the time limit outlined in the rental agreement. Late payments of the current rent may result in a late fee, eviction proceedings, and other penalties.
  • Tenants must abide by all terms of the rental agreement, including rules regarding noise levels, pet policies, smoking restrictions, peaceful possession parking, and more.
  • Tenants should also keep their rented property clean and damage-free throughout their tenancy period.
  • Tenants cannot sublet or allow anyone else to occupy a tenant’s living space without prior written consent from the landlord or tenant representative.
  • Tenants are responsible for any necessary repairs during the tenancy period unless otherwise specified in the lease agreement. Tenants must also take reasonable steps to safeguard the property and report any damage or security breaches to their landlord as soon as possible.
  • Tenants must keep all tenant records up-to-date, including contact information, rental payment history, lease agreements, etc. Tenants should also keep copies of all documents related to the tenancy for future reference.

By respecting these rights and abiding by Tenancy Law regulations in Lagos State, tenants can ensure a successful tenancy relationship with their landlords.

Tenants should seek legal help if they feel that their rights have been violated in any way or if they are unsure about any aspects of Tenancy Law.

Understanding Tenancy Law is key to maintaining a safe and secure living environment for tenants and landlords.

Remedies Available to Tenants Whose Rights Have Been Breached

What can be done regarding a breach from landlords towards tenancy laws? Landlords must adhere to these laws that protect the right of tenants.

In case of a breach from landlords towards Tenancy Law regulations in Lagos State, tenants have the right to take legal action against their landlord.

  • Tenants should seek legal advice and file a complaint with the Tenancy Tribunal if they feel their rights have been violated.

The Tenancy Tribunal is an independent body that has the power to hear disputes between landlords and tenants and can issue binding orders to both parties.

  • Tenants may also be eligible for compensation or other remedies depending on the circumstances of their case.
  • Tenants should remember that they are not alone in protecting their rights. Tenancy Law protects tenants and landlords alike, so landlords must adhere to Tenancy Law regulations.

In addition, a landlord does not have an inherent right to know the occupation of their tenant. However, a landlord may ask prospective tenants about their occupation as part of the screening process for renting a property to know if they are in a lawful or unlawful occupation.

Tenants should also be aware that Tenancy Tribunals tend to side with or in favour of tenants who are knowledgeable of Tenancy Law and have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves. After all, equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent.

In other words, properly understanding the Tenancy Law in these modern-day realities is key to maintaining a safe and secure living environment for tenants and landlords.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the Grounds for a Landlord to Claim Possession of a Property in Lagos?

A landlord can claim possession of a property in Lagos if the tenant is in arrears of rent, has breached the tenancy agreement terms, or the landlord needs the property for their use. The tenant is expected to vacate the premises upon the notice of the owner to vacate the property.

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Give Before Increasing Rent in Lagos?

Under the Lagos State Tenancy Law, a landlord must give a tenant at least six months’ notice as a consequence of a breach before increasing the rent on their property before a possession claim.

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Give Before Increasing Rent in Lagos?

Under the Lagos State Tenancy Law, a landlord must give a tenant at least six months’ notice as a consequence of a breach before increasing the rent on their property before a possession claim.

Can a Landlord Demand Rent Payable in Advance in Lagos?

Yes, a landlord can demand rent payable in advance in Lagos. However, the Lagos State Tenancy Law states that a landlord cannot demand more than one year’s rent in advance.

What Facilities Should a Landlord Provide for Their Tenants in Lagos?

A landlord in Lagos must provide basic facilities such as electricity, water, and sanitation services. The landlord is also responsible for maintaining the property in a habitable condition.

How Can a Tenant Protect Their Rights in Lagos While Facing Eviction?

If a tenant in Lagos faces eviction, they can protect their rights by seeking specialist advice and representation from property lawyers. They should also ensure they have evidence of any rent payments made and a copy of their tenancy agreement. If the landlord has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement or the Lagos State Tenancy Law, the tenant may have grounds to dispute the eviction.

Conclusion

Tenancy laws in Lagos State are designed to protect tenants and landlords in the practices applicable to ensure that each party is treated fairly for a lawful purpose and their rights are respected.

Tenants and landlords should also familiarize themselves with Tenancy Law Act (TLA) and Tenancy Tribunal Act (TTA), and relevant local regulations in developed countries to ensure their rights are adequately protected.

Landlords must also adhere to the Tenancy Laws of Lagos State to manage rental and personal property properly and avoid any tenant-related disputes. Ultimately, both parties need to understand Tenancy Law to maintain a successful tenancy relationship.

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