Are you looking at renting a house, or you are already a tenant? Knowing your right as a Nigerian tenant is a crucial part of your rental agreement. It is crucial not only at the point you strike the contract, but for your entire stay in the rent property.
It is important to note that what you agree to at the initial stage, are most times extended through your rent period. Therefore, it is imperative to know what works for and against you before entering into a rental contract.
We have gathered all the rights you need to know as a Nigerian tenant to enjoy a fair rental period.
10 Rights You Must Know To Survive as a Nigerian Tenant
Read through the 10 important rights you must know as a Nigerian tenant:
Right to a written agreement
This is the first and most important right you must know. You need to get a written agreement between you and your landlord. This written agreement is called Tenancy agreement, it specifies the terms of your property rental. A typical tenancy agreement will include the name of the property, the person renting the property to you, your name, agreement to rent the property, terms of tenancy, monthly rent payment, limitations on the use of property, alteration of property, maintenance responsibility, and grounds for termination.
It is important that you look through the tenancy agreement closely before endorsing it, ensuring it represents your interest.
Right to a habitable environment
Foremost, as a Nigerian, you have a right to rent any property up for rental within the country. Also, as a tenant, you have a right to a habitable environment. Unfortunately, some houses in Lagos are built in a way that they have one lapse or the other. To avoid falling prey to such rentals, it is always advisable to go for house inspection before making payment.
However, if upon moving into the rent you notice some lapses, it is your right to let the landlord make the repairs that are covered in the tenancy agreement. You also have a right to request for reimbursement for repairs that are covered in the tenancy agreement you had to do yourself.
Right to own properties
As a Nigerian tenant, you have a right to own personal properties and place them within the parameters you both agreed on. For the period of your rental, you own an exclusive right to the property and as such, you can bring in your personal belongings into the space you rented as long as they do not breach your tenancy agreement.
Right to be notified before eviction
This is another right most Nigerian tenants are not aware of. It is unlawful for your landlord to evict you without prior notification. While it is possible for any of the parties to terminate the contract, in the case of eviction, you should be given a prior quit notice.
Quit notices are arrived at using the duration of the rent. For example, for an at will tenancy contract, you should get a minimum of one week notification. For a month tenancy contract, you should get a minimum of one-month notification, while a year and above tenancy contract attracts a minimum of six months notification.
A valid quit notice letter should contain the name of your Landlord, your name, the address of the property you are occupying, and the duration they are giving you to evict the property.
Right to be issued receipts
Part of your legal right is a right to a well-detailed receipt to affirm payment. Receiving a receipt will go a long way in proving payment if issues arise in the future. It can help you in any way if you ever have to defend yourself at the court, so do not forget to always get one! It also signifies your legal right to the rented property.
A typical rental receipt will contain information such as the name of the landlord and the tenant, the date of payment, the location of the property, the duration the payment is made for, as well as the amount of rent paid. The receipt should be endorsed by the landlord, the agent, or the legal entity standing in his or her place.
Right to defer incessant increments
Your tenancy agreement should stipulate the frequency at which the landlord can review rent. Ensure that your tenancy agreement does not give your landlord the right to request for automatic rent increment. Rent increment should be according to the “rent review clause” – terms for how the rent will be increased as stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
Also, the landlord cannot request for rent review during an existing tenancy.
Right for any of the parties to terminate the contract
Just as your landlord has a right to terminate the tenancy contract, you also have a right to terminate the contract before the fixed date.
Right to reasonable privacy
You have a right of exclusive possession. Therefore, the landlord needs your authorization to trespass into your rental property during the period of your agreement. However, with written notice or agreement, you can permit the landlord at reasonable hours to conduct necessary maintenance and repairs.
Right to access personal property
The landlord, under no circumstances, has no right to seize your properties or interfere with them. If there is any issue of concern, it should be addressed using the tenancy agreement. The landlord also has no right to deny you access to your personal properties.
Your right regarding advance payment
Beforeyou are given access to your apartment, you may be requested to make some payments in advance. The amount you will be required to pay lies largely on the duration of rent stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
This is a major place many Nigerian tenants get cheated. In most parts of the country, rent is collected in arrears or at the end of the rent duration. However, in a situation where you are requested to pay in advance, existing tenancy law in Nigeria gives room for a demand of advance payment not more than six months from a monthly tenant. Some areas of the country do an excess of three months from a monthly tenant. Also, the landlord should not receive or demand more than a-year advance payment from a yearly tenant.
How Many Months Notice Should I Get Before Eviction?
Under the Lagos tenancy law, you can only get evicted when your rent is not paid, when you breach your tenancy agreement, use the premises for immoral or illegal activities, when the rented property is abandoned or unsafe, interference with the rights of other tenants, and damage to rental property. Also, you can be evicted if the landlord needs the property back for personal use.
If any of the above occurs, the landlord will serve you a quit notice. The quit notice stipulates the duration you have to evict the premises. This varies depending on the tenancy agreement you have. For an at-will tenant, you get one week of quit notice, one month of quit notice for a monthly tenant, three months of quit notice for a quarterly tenant, three months of quit notice for a half-yearly tenant, then six months of quit notice for a yearly tenant.
However, in a situation where your lease is expired and not renewed, the landlord can issue a seven days owner’s intention to recover the property.
Can a Landlord Evict You Without a Court Order?
Under no circumstance should a landlord evict you outside the confines of the law. You should not succumb to self-mode of eviction such as harassment, seizure of property or forceful eviction. The law gives provision for the landlord to adequately notify you via the quit notice. You have a particular duration you can stay for depending on your tenancy agreement. If this is met and all goes peacefully, there would not be a need to move to the next stage.
If you are unable to vacate the premises within the notified duration, the landlord has the right to charge you to court. All documentation will be put into consideration and if he wins the case, a court order of eviction will be issued against you.
To the question, it is possible you get evicted without the court order if you vacate the premises on or before the stipulated date on your quit notice. However, this does not suggest the use of any method that is illegal or self-administered.
Now that you know your rights as a Nigerian tenant, you should exercise them toward a peaceful relationship between you and your landlord or agent.
Is there any Nigerian tenant right you would like to know about, but it is not covered within our scope? Mention them in the comment section, and we will consider having a part two of this article. We wish you a happy stay!