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Monday, November 29, 2021

Can a tenant refused eviction?

By Runsewe Solomon

An eviction occurs when a landlord legally forces a tenant to move out of a rental unit. If your landlord wants to evict you, he must give you an approved notice with an acceptable reason for eviction according to the Residential Tenancy Act. The Hope Classics spoke with some stakeholders. Excerpts;

segun  Oni, ESQ

The Nigerian law is all encompassing and people-welfare oriented. Constitutionally speaking, our constitution is set to ensure that the less privileged individuals don’t suffer in the hands of their oppressors, the law is there to protect their interest, no doubt, in this part of the world, some landlords are shylocks (hiring at exorbitant amount), very cruel, inhumane and treat tenants like nobodies. The law frowns at this, hence, the law readily defends this category of people.
The law will disallow a trample on people’s fundamental right at any time. The legendary Lord Denning in the celebrated case of Mcfoy v. UAC said Clothing is a truism in legal garb, in his dictum, the learned law Lord said “You cannot put something upon nothing and expect it to stand”. It will definitely collapse.
This truism has a strong foundation in logic and common sense. There is this Latin saying which also is in perfect simulacrum with Lord Denning’s dictum ‘Ex nihilo nihil fit” Nothing can come out of nothing”. It is a common sense that you don’t fight someone over his/her belonging, it baffles me when I see people fighting their landlords/landladies over their properties, this is appalling, repugnant and offensive but however, such right of the landlord must not be misused. An owner has exclusive right over his property but once it is rented, the right has some limitations, for instance, during the pendency of the rent, you don’t enter the apartment unless you are invited by the occupant, otherwise one will be liable for trespass. This will avail me the opportunity of saying overtly that tenant has rights as enshrined in our legislations as a nation, the rights are as follows: 1. 2. 3. Right to peaceful enjoyment.
Right to sue for trespass, in case of unauthorized entry into his apartment. Right to be issued with a valid notice to quit, that is, if you are a yearly tenant, you must be given six months’ notice, if it’s half yearly & quarterly; you are entitled to three months’ notice, if three months and monthly basis, just a month’ s notice, this is stipulated in the Tenancy law of Nigeria, each state has enacted her own Tenancy Law, for instance, Tenancy Law of Ondo State. Please note that once a notice to quit expires, the relationship of tenant to landlord is no longer in existence, even though he is no longer a tenant to the landlord, the tenant is still duty bound to pay the rent he owes to the landlord; notice is not a denial of the landlord of his house rent but rather a grace for the defaulting tenant not to be thrown out before he gets another accommodation.
Right to seven (7) days’ owner’s intention to recover possession 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Right to be given fair hearing at any stage. Right to be issued receipt for payment – this is a right and not an obligation, once you make payment, you are expected to be given a receipt to document the transaction. Right to agreement – it needs to be stressed that the timeframe for a valid notice to quit depends on the agreement signed between the tenant and landlord but if no agreement was made, then the stated timeframe in 3 above applies.
Right to habitable premises GROUNDS FOR RECOVERY OF POSSESSION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Arrears or default of rent – my salient advice to tenants has always being to try as much as possible to pay their rent as at when due, don’t joke with this aspect, this opens you up for eviction, at this stage, your landlord ceases to be your landlord but the owner of your apartment and the provision of the law is just 7 days’ owner’s intention to recover possession.
The landlord/landlady may personally be in need of the same apartment or wants to embark on renovation of the apartment. If a tenant carries out illegal activities in the apartment. Misuse of the said apartment or damage to the apartment. Sublet of the apartment without the permission of the landlord/landlady. WHAT IS EVICTION? Eviction is the act or process of officially forcing someone to leave a house or piece of land. Black’s Law Dictionary, 11th Edition defines it as dispossession by process of law; the act of depriving a person of the possession of lands which he has held, in pursuance of the judgment of a court. A landlord cannot just kick a tenant out. He needs to follow the formal procedure as laid down in our laws religiously; it must be strictly adhered to by the landlord, otherwise the action will be a nullity ab initio.
In a situation where your landlord filed a proceeding for recovery of possession, however, there are some defenses available to the tenant and they are: the defense that the landlord has not followed due procedure for lawful eviction; or that you withheld the rent because landlord failed to make necessary repairs on the property after repeated demands; or compensation is not paid for the major repairs carried out with the consent of the landlord; or that your tenancy is still subsisting.
Therefore, it is my humble view that the tenant and landlord should abide by the rules guiding their relationship and that cordial relation is of great importance, but however, if there is the need to evict a bad tenant, the law should be strictly complied with, landlord should desist from taking laws into their hands, that is, self- help, this will make them liable. It follows that without this, the tenant cannot refuse the eviction from the court.

 

Bewaji Isaac, ESQ

In residential properties containing five or more rental units, tenants being evicted due to renovations or repairs have a “right of first refusal” to return to their unit once the renovations or repairs have been completed.
If you are interested in being offered a new tenancy agreement for your renovated unit, provide your landlord with written notice of your intention to use your right of first refusal. This will require your landlord to, at least 45 days before the completion of the renovations or repairs, inform you of the date your renovated unit will be available and provide you with a new tenancy agreement for that effective date. Although this may sound like a great opportunity, the problem is that your landlord can set your new rent at whatever amount they desire.
There are strict penalties when it comes to this area of the law. If your landlord does not offer you a right of first refusal after you have given proper notice, they could end up owing you 12 months of your previous rent as compensation. See sections 51.2 and 51.3 of the RTA for more information.
If you do not dispute a “landlord’s use” eviction notice, your move-out date will be two or four months later, on the last day of the month (assuming you pay rent on the 1st of the month). For example, if you receive a Four Month Eviction Notice on March 5th, you would have to move out by July 31st. Sometimes a landlord will list the wrong move-out date on an eviction notice. If this is the case, the notice is still valid but, according to section 53 of the RTA, self-corrects to the legal move-out date. To avoid any misunderstandings with your landlord, it can be a good idea to write them and explain the law to ensure they understand that you are not illegally overholding the rental unit. See TRAC’s template letter, Illegal Eviction Notice.

 

Toyosi Adeyemo, ESQ

A large number of home hunters, especially millennials’ don’t want an apartment where the Landlord also resides. This mindset had been driven into the minds of many, from hearing stories from friends, colleagues of how horrible and strict certain landlords tend to be.
This uncommon incident often boils down to lack of communication from both parties, not being well informed about their according to the laws.
The Nigerian law is all-encompassing and people-welfare oriented that the law went on to provide an avalanche of rights, duties, and privileges for both parties. The law defines the rights, duties, privileges, powers, and remedies open to both tenants and landlords.
Every tenant no matter his status or location in Nigeria has the right to an agreement.
Agreements, on the other hand, can be oral or written. However, it is advised that agreements between both parties should be written, hence, any altercations would be easily dealt with, and it comes in handy as references.
The tenant is expected to go through the agreements thoroughly before signing.
Tenancy agreements are to contain in details the names of a landlord and his tenant; as parties to the Tenancy Agreement.
The land or house to be rented out ought to be described in details; showing its location and basic features. The duration of the tenancy, the rent payable and the date at which such rent would become payable should be stated.
Section 7 of the law states that tenants are to comply with the tenancy agreement which includes paying their rent on time to avoid problems, they are also expected to behave in the right manner, they are to take consent from the landlord before fixing up any structural damage on any part of the building, subletting and alterations.
A tenant cannot be thrown out of his apartment unless there is a strict compliance by the landlord with relevant Recovery of Premises Law.
Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid “quit notice” of a landlord’s intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served to the tenant. The amount of time given to the tenant, whether weekly, monthly, yearly, depends on his rent. Thus it is advised that a tenant thoroughly read through the Tenancy Agreement before signing as some might even sign away their rights for a ‘quit notice’. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse in law.
A valid “Quit Notice” must contain the name of the landlord, the name of the tenant, the address of the property occupied by the tenant, the duration given to the tenant included.
The protection given to a tenant by the Nigerian Tenancy Law, prevents Landlords to evict an occupant without issuing a “Seven Days’ Notice to Recover”.
The “Seven (7) Days’ Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises” is a notice from a landlord’s lawyer notifying a tenant upon whom a “Quit Notice” had been served and same had expired; that the lawyer will after seven (7) days from the date of the service of the Notice proceed to court to recover the over- held premises on behalf of the landlord.
Discussed above are some of the rights of a tenant covered by the Nigerian law. And as there are laws protecting the tenant, the landlord has laws protecting his rights under the Nigerian law too. Below are some of the Rights of a Landlord in Nigeria.

 

 

Pastor Akinwumi Olowu

Can a tenant challenge a repossession or eviction?
Yes
Within one month of getting the notice, tenants must notify the landlord whether they agree or refuse to leave (model of notice from the TAL). If they don’t do this, they are considered to have refused to leave.
A tenant who doesn’t want to leave can try to reach an agreement with the owner. If there is no agreement, the owner can repossess the dwelling with the authorization of the TAL. To do this, the landlord must apply to the TAL within one month of receiving the tenant’s refusal or at the end of the time limit for reply. At the hearing before the TAL, the owner must demonstrate a real intention to repossess the dwelling for the reasons stated in the notice.
The rules are different for evictions. Tenants have one month from the time they receive the notice of eviction to notify the owner whether they accept or refuse to leave. If they forget to do this, they are assumed to have accepted to leave.
Tenants who refuse to leave can either try to reach an agreement with the owner, or apply to the TAL before the end of the one-month time limit.
So it’s very important for tenants to notify the owner of their refusal and to file an application with the TAL within the time limit. Owners must prove to the TAL that they truly intend to divide, demolish, enlarge or change the use of the apartment, as the law allows.
If the tenant continues to live in the apartment without objection from the owner, and the owner doesn’t repossess or evict on the scheduled date, the lease is automatically renewed.
If the TAL refuses the repossession or eviction, the lease continues. And if the TAL makes this decision after the time limit for avoiding renewal or modification of the lease, the lease is automatically renewed.
The owner has one month from the date of the TAL’s decision to ask the TAL to decide on the rent.
An eviction occurs when a landlord legally forces a tenant to move out of a rental unit. If your landlord wants to evict you, they must give you an approved notice with an acceptable reason for eviction according to the Residential Tenancy Act.

Akinyemi Omoworare, ESQ

 

Unlike repossession, owners can only evict a tenant when they want to divide up the rental unit, demolish it, enlarge it or change what it is used for. For example, an owner might want to turn a residential building into an office building.
If the owner wants to cancel a lease because the tenant doesn’t pay the rent or respect other responsibilities under the lease, this is called resiliation of the lease. It is not the same as eviction and the rules are different.
What are the time limits for sending notices of eviction or repossession?
Owners who wants to evict a tenant or repossess must notify the tenant in writing within these time limits:
Six months before the lease ends, if the lease is for a set length of time over six months
one month before the lease ends, if the lease is for six months or less
six months before the date of repossession or eviction for leases without a set length
The notice of repossession of a dwelling (notice model from the Tribunal administratif du logement/TAL, formerly Régie du logement or rental board) must include this information:
The date set for repossession
the name of the beneficiary (the person moving in) and, where applicable, how the landlord and beneficiary are related
As for an eviction notice (notice model from the TAL), it must indicate the reason for the eviction and the date on which it will occur.
Important! The repossession or eviction could happen later if a court sets a later date at the request of the tenant or if the landlord and tenant agree to a different date.

 

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