STEPS TO EVICTION OF TENANTS

There are laid down procedures put in place by the law which must be adhered to by the landlord so as not to pay damages as the law gives the Tenant more advantages than the landlord.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/26/2022 4 min read

STEPS TO EVICTION OF TENANTS

It is never easy as a Landlord in Nigeria to have a Tenant that does not pay rent or causes so much trouble. It is law that a landlord or owner of a property, cannot forcibly remove a tenant from his property. There are laid down procedures put in place by the law which must be adhered to so as not to pay damages as the law gives the Tenant more advantages than the landlord.

Where a landlord forcibly removes a tenant through the use of self help such as changing the key locks of the tenant’s building, removing the door by force, removing some of the roofing sheets or by using the services of the Police to forcefully remove the tenant, etc., the tenant can depending on the circumstance, pursue a claim against him for damages, wrongful eviction and trespass.

WHEN CAN A TENANT BE EVICTED?

Under the Lagos State Tenancy Law, 2011, a landlord can commence the eviction process when one or more of the following circumstances are present:

1. Where the tenant is in arrears of rent i.e. after several demands has been made e.g. by serving late rent notice on the tenant.

2. Where the tenant violates a fundamental clause in the tenancy agreement.

3. Where the tenant is using the rental property for illicit or immoral purposes e.g. robbery, prostitution, etc.

4. Where the rental property has been abandoned by the tenant.

5. Where the property is unsafe for habitation which constitutes a danger to human life e.g. where the property is about to collapse.

6. Where the landlord or his/her family members wants to personally use the rental property.

7. Lack of maintenance of the property.

8. Allowing the property to become a death trap to visitors and neighbors. Others include:

9. Where the tenant is constituting a nuisance e.g. constantly fighting.

10. Where the tenant has seriously damaged the rental property.

11. Where the landlord wants to carryout structural repairs on the premises.

12. Where is interfering with your rights as the landlord or the rights of other tenants.

13. Where the tenant has sublet the rental property to a 3rd party contrary to the lease agreement.

THE PROCESS OF EVICTING A TENANT LAWFULLY This includes:

STEP 1: ISSUANCE OF LATE RENT NOTICE

This is usually the first step when the reason for the eviction is for non-payment of the rent. Here, the landlord or your authorized agent is required by law to have made several demands on the tenant. Under the law, a landlord can seek an order of possession and an order for the recovery of unpaid rent in court. The landlord will be required to provide an evidence of the non-payment of arrears of rent in court. Therefore, the landlord is required to issue a letter titled “Late Rent Notice” to the tenant. This would serve as the evidence in court.

STEP 2: ISSUANCE OF A NOTICE TO QUIT

This is mandatory for periodic leases and the length of the notice to quit depends on the agreement signed by both parties (the landlord and the tenant). For example, the landlord and the tenant can agree that a one month notice would be given in the case of the yearly tenancy by stipulating it in the tenancy agreement and executing it accordingly by both parties.

However, if the contract does not specify the length of notice, the provision of the law will apply. For example, the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 provides that:

a. For a yearly tenant, at least 6 months’ notice must be given;

b. For a quarterly or half-yearly tenant, at least 3 months’ notice must be given;

c. For a monthly tenant, at least one month’s notice must be given; and

d. For a weekly tenant, at least a week’s notice must be given.

This step is not required under a fixed term lease as the landlord allows the term to expire and then issues a seven days owner’s Intention to recover Possession.

Exception to this is where the tenancy was terminated by the landlord before the expiration of the term.

Contents of A Notice to Quit

· The date to give up possession

· The type of Tenancy (yearly or monthly)

· The description of the property

· The capacity in which the lawyer is writing.

STEP 3: ISSUANCE OF OWNER’S INTENTION TO RECOVER POSSESSION

Where the tenant refuses to vacate the rental property after the expiration of the quit notice, the landlord or his/her attorney will then issue a Seven days’ Owner’s Intention to Recover Possession to the tenant.

This is required for both fixed and periodic lease

Contents of The Owner’s Intention to Recover Possessions

  • Type of Tenancy

  • The description of the property

  • Grounds and Particulars of the claim

  • clear days within which to vacate

  • The capacity in which the lawyer is writing ·

  • The outstanding rate to be paid.

STEP 4: COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION IN COURT

This comes into play where the tenant still refuses to vacate the rental property. This step will entail a court process that requires the calling of witnesses and other evidences. A judgment will then be delivered by the court who will order the tenant to vacate the premises either immediately or on a specified date.

NOTE Where the tenant intends to terminate the lease, he/she is only required to issue a Notice of Termination of Tenancy to the landlord and vacate the rental property.

CONCLUSION S. 44 of the Lagos State Tenancy Law, 2011 provides for the punishment for forcibly removing a tenant. Such a person when found guilty shall be liable to a fine. It is therefore advisably to follow the provisions of the law, and where not sure or clear, it would best to engage an experience real estate attorney to provide adequate and efficient legal assistance.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

EMAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080