Nigerian Law Forum
This article examines whether a landlord can evict a tenant and the legal process of evicting a tenant with Lagos State as a focal point. The relationship between a landlord and a tenant known as tenancy, is one where the owner of the land referred to as the landlord gives up his property for use by another known as the tenant.
The relationship is contractual in nature and evidenced by a Tenancy Agreement. Just like any other legal agreement, a violation of the terms of the agreement can legally bring the tenancy agreement to an end and recovery of the premises by the landlord. However, for the eviction of a tenant and recovery of the premises by the landlord to be lawful, due process of law has to be followed.
Lagos State Tenancy Law
The Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011 regulates the relationship between landlords and tenants. It applies to all business and residential premises with the exception of residential premises for staff and students of an educational institution, residential premises for shelter, care or hospice facility, residential premises for public or private hospitals or a mental facility. The Law applies to all premises within Lagos except premises in Apapa, Ikeja GRA, Ikoyi and Victoria Island.
The reason why a landlord seeks to evict a tenant from his property is so that he can recover his premises. However, the reason for eviction must fall within the grounds stated in the Lagos State Tenacy Law 2011.Failure to pay rent is not the only ground for the lawful eviction of a tenant. The following are the grounds on which a tenant can be lawfully evicted1:
Where a landlord has a lawful ground to evict a tenant, the first thing to do is not to throw him out forcefully or get him arrested by the police or get him harrased or assaulted by thugs. The following are the steps laid down by the law to ensure a lawful eviction and recovery of premises.
The first step of evicting a tenant by the landlord is to issue a notice to quit to the tenant. The notice to quit is a document that spells out a period of time given to the tenant to vacate the premises. The length/duration of the notice to quit is based on the tenancy agreement or The Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011.
It is worthy of note that a notice to quit will not be given to a tenant in the following situation;
Where the tenant falls into any of these categories, the landlord will proceed to step 2 without giving the tenant a 7-day written quit notice.
Where the notice to quit expires and the tenant is still in possession or occupation of the premises, the land will issue a 7-day notice of owner’s intention to recover premises and serve the written notice on the tenant.
Where the 7-day notice of owner’s intention to possess the property expires, and the tenant has refused to vacate the premises, the landlord can within 7 days of the expiration of the notice commence an action in court and obtain a court order to recover possession of the premises. It is only after obtaining a court order that a landlord can lawfully evict a tenant. This action can be commenced at the Magistrate court or High court, depending on the rental value of the premises.
Late payment of rent or arrears of rent amounts to a breach of the term of the tenancy agreement, upon which a landlord can lawfully evict a tenant. However due process of law must be followed by the landlord to ensure he obtains a formal court order, to avoid being liable for unlawful eviction. A landlord is prevented from forcefully ejecting a tenant from his property even when the actions of the tenant fall within any of the grounds listed above. This is because such action is regarded as self-help and the law frowns at self-help.3
A Landlord who resorts to any self-help means or unlawfully evicts a client will be liable to the tenants for wrongful eviction and the tenant can claim damages. A Landlord guilty of forceful eviction is liable to a fine not exceeding N250,000.00 (Two hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) or an
imprisonment term of not exceeding (6) months.4
1 Section 13(1) Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011
2 Tsegba & Anor v. Registered Trustees of Mission House & Anor (2018) LPELR-44242(CA)
3 Section 25 Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011
4 Section 44 Tenancy Law of Lagos State 2011
Preye Ezonfade , LLB
By Tamunoemi Briggs
4 months ago
Please is this provision only applicable to people in Lagos? What about States like River State
@Tamunoemi Briggs There is no federal law regulating the recovery of premises in Nigeria. However, each state in Nigeria has similar Recovery of Premises Law and this makes the procedure for recovery of premises similar in all states in Nigeria.
4 months ago
By Grace Val
2 months, 2 weeks ago
I am a yearly tenant in Maryland, Lagos. My tenancy starts 1st April and ends March 31st. I always pay when due and at most, 3 weeks into the month of April.
There is no legal agreement document.
My landlord verbally informed me about rent increase late February 2023, i declined on the ground that i should have been given prior formal notification, so he agreed to accept same rent and issued me a receipt.
I got a hint that he is planning to issue me an eviction for reasons I do not know. I have been a good tenant and have not gone contrary to the reasons you mentioned above.
Will it be right for him to notify me of his intention to repossess the apartment when my rent has not expire? If yes, what should i expect?
When can I be notified of rent increament given these circumstances?
I am ready to pay the new rent since i do not have the intention to vacate the house, Does the landlord have right to evict me on a casual ground irrespective of my position?
Your advice will be appreciated.
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