This article has been written by Mithi Jaiswal pursuing the Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation, and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho. This article has been edited by first evaluator Anahita Arya (Senior Associate, Lawsikho) and Dipshi Swara (Senior Associate, Lawsikho).
The administration of public lodging by numerous domain proprietors, landlords, and caretakers in most developing nations, including Nigeria is frequently bothered by helpless maintenance, high rentals and as a rule, tenants are unsatisfied with their abode units. These components in addition to poor or no tenancy agreements among landlords and tenants contribute towards the overall decay of public lodging.
Drafting of a far-reaching tenancy agreement requires the administrations of an equipped attorney, who will succinctly illuminate the obligations and duties of both the landowner and the inhabitant. Without an exhaustive tenancy agreement, the struggle between the landowner and the inhabitant may emerge when one gathering isn’t happy with the lead of the other.
The relationship of landlord and tenant might be characterised as the relationship that exists between gatherings to a lease. It normally emerges when the proprietor of a bequest awards, typically through agreement, the right to ownership of his property or part of it, to someone else to hold for a particular time frame. Such an award is known as a lease, downfall, or tenure. The relationship between landlords and tenants in Nigeria has arrived at an extremely critical stage in the current society in Nigeria, consequently, there is a need to know and survey the impact of the relationship between the landlord and the tenant on residential properties. Likewise, we must know the situation among tenants and landlords in residential structures preceding the legal assessment of occupancy law in Nigeria. All the more significantly, it is likewise attractive for each gathering to know their rights as ensured under the different material laws on the topic. This will guarantee a quiet concurrence among tenants and landlords in residential structures.
Tenancy agreement : meaning, components and purpose
A tenancy agreement is a legal contract between a landlord and the tenant which sets out the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant when renting a property in Nigeria. Both landlord and tenant have something many refer to as ‘suggested rights’ in all tenancy connections. In any case, a tenancy agreement is significant in light of the fact that it gives further security to both the landlord and tenant, and it develops the suggested rights. Assuming that you are a landlord and are going to lease your property, or that you are a tenant going to lease a property, it is prudent that you demand that there is a tenancy agreement. In Nigeria, the tenancy agreement is a rule made by the landlord or their lawyer. As the landlord is the proprietor, they set the terms on which they need to lease their property and present this to the tenant.
As the tenancy agreement is an agreement between two gatherings – the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has the privilege to audit the conditions of the tenancy agreement to decide if the agreement ensures his/her advantages. Most tenancy agreements are clear and straightforward; in any case, it is fitting where conceivable to get a lawyer to survey the terms and counsel on what they mean for the tenant’s current and future rights.
After basically inspecting the idea of a tenancy agreement in the Nigerian setting, it is important to list out the substance of a decent tenancy agreement in Nigeria that is without ambiguity. Understanding the substance of a drafted tenancy agreement should be the pre-essential for which the two players appropriately consent to the arrangement structure. Here is a list of contents to expect in a typical Nigerian tenancy agreement;
- Name and address of the landlord and the agent,
- Name of the tenant,
- Address of the property,
- The duration tenancy,
- How much the rent will be, due date and mode of payment,
- Other applicable amounts including – attorney fees, agent fees etc,
- What the rent covers – does it include bills and other charges?,
- Rules of tenancy – pets, subletting, lodgers, guests, usage of property etc.,
- The obligations and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant.
The tenancy agreement also contains responsibilities to be undertaken by both the landlord, and the tenant. The responsibilities of the landlord include but are not limited to the following; ensuring that the property is in good working order and equipped for the tenant to move into and inhabit; repair and maintain the property; inform the tenant when they intend on entering the property to do repairs; insure the property and all contents that do not belong to the tenant.
After enumerating the responsibilities above, it is also pertinent to note the responsibilities of the tenants too as contained in the tenancy agreement. The responsibilities of the tenant include but not limited to the following; ensuring the prompt payment of house rents as at when due; repair any damages caused by the tenant on the property; keeping the property clean and tidy; abiding the tenancy rules as contained in the tenancy agreement.
Landlords and tenants
In every one of these, one should remember that the landlord is an individual or organisation that possesses a property (a structure, house, condo, or plot of land) that is leased to other people (tenants). This plan is generally expressed under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement. Most landlords in Nigeria lease their property to create pay. They consider it to be a business workout. Numerous landlords would contend that the genuine motivation behind claiming property and leasing it out is the security it offers for what’s to come. In connection, a tenant is someone who leases a structure, house, plot of land, or piece of property for a fixed time frame.
The relationship between the landlord and the tenant relies upon an arrangement. While their relationship is regularly reasonable, some typical issues are learned about Nigerian metropolitan regions: The landlords protest that their tenants don’t take incredible thought of the rental lodging, pay their lease late, get into underhandedness generally, and don’t fathom that expanding costs of utilities, upkeep and fixes make it essential to raise the lease. The tenants fuss that their landlords disregard to stay aware of the lodging fittingly, don’t fix things when they break, charge preposterously high costs for utilities, increase the lease suddenly, threaten when the lease is paid fairly late. It is seen that the relationship between landlords and tenants in Nigeria, generally speaking, isn’t pleasant.
Various rental agreements among landlords and tenants in Nigeria are up close and personal and casual in nature, wrapped up outside of any regulatory construction or formal by and large arrangement of laws.
Rental housing is a common phenomenon in Nigeria and her cities. Millions of low-income earners and younger households in Nigeria use renting to meet their housing needs. In all these, the need for a tenancy agreement becomes really important to avoid unnecessary future disagreements between landlords and tenants.
The rental sum a landlord charges will rely upon the nature of the actual accommodation, including the unit’s admittance to essential framework, public administrations, neighborhood conveniences and occupations. In most rental plans, the rental rate will be set at a level which permits the landlord to benefit from the rental unit and to have a profit from the speculation, by acquiring more than the sum put resources into developing the rental unit and the support costs. In any case, in instances of sponsored public area lodging, the rental rates might be lower than what is needed to recuperate the first speculation. Landlords will, in general, contend that rents are excessively low, though inhabitants, and their affiliations, contend that they are excessively high.
Tenancy agreement as a shield in Nigeria
In Nigeria, particularly Lagos state, the appropriate laws regulating tenancy agreements are the Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises Law Vol. 7, Laws of Lagos State, 2003 and the newly enacted Lagos Tenancy Law, 2011(similar laws exist in all the other states in Nigeria).
The Lagos Tenancy Law has aroused considerable public interest since its enactment, much of which surrounds the issue of advanced rent which the law prohibits. Section 4 of the new law makes it unlawful for a landlord to demand or receive any rent in excess of one year from a sitting yearly tenant, six (6) months from a sitting monthly tenant, and one year from a new or a would-be tenant. It is also unlawful for new and sitting tenants to offer to pay rents in excess of one year. The penalty for violating this provision is a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira or three (3) months imprisonment.
The steadily expanding relocation of individuals into the significant urban communities in the country in a quest for greener fields has made the mission for getting good accommodation in these urban areas a Herculean errand, which truth be told, not many privileged people can bear. Numerous Nigerians manage with squatting with family relations or companions while some manage with unhygienic accommodations due to modest rents. Additionally, yearly lease increases present a test to most tenants.
Landlords in significant urban communities in Nigeria are essentially delighted in the unbridled enthusiasm for house rents – the greater part of them set out on self-assertive increments of rents by outlandish extents at ordinary spans, regularly utilising this as a procedure to launch tenants who can’t stay aware of such unpredictable increments, realizing beyond any doubt that someone else remaining by would rapidly seize the condo paying little mind to the nonsensical increment in rate. In Lagos State especially, vulnerable Nigerians experience untold difficulties in the possession of some insatiable and insidious landlords who utilise different strategies to discharge tenants who can’t meet with silly and unreasonable increments of rent.
In conclusion, in Nigeria, the tenancy agreement is an instrument in property that gives assurance to every one of the gatherings involved in the rental housing area. The Nigerian rental housing area is generally an informal setting, where tenancy agreements are not enforceable in light of the fact that the majority of the agreements are either done verbally or informally without a solid backing of the law, subsequently unenforceable. The arrangements of the lease control and recuperation of premises laws in Nigeria have been held more in defiance than in compliance this could be because of the wide hole between housing need and housing supply most particularly in the metropolitan communities.
Also, the Nigerian government should do more to provide cheap housing, find a way to regulate rental housing practices, and enact laws that will enforce the use of tenancy agreements that will protect both parties involved.
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