20 Mar 7 Legal Pitfalls Tenants in Nigeria should be aware of
Are you a tenant or potential tenant? You need to know these things legal pitfalls.
The team at LawPàdí has come up with this Hit list, to help you understand legal pitfalls to avoid.
Always have a tenancy agreement- this is very important, the agreement basically sets out the terms of your tenancy and it is important that it is written- it should amongst other things contain- the names of the landlord and tenant, the amount of rent, frequency of payment, and how long the tenancy is for.
Ensure that there are no provisions which allow the Landlord unrestricted entry into the premises- your landlord owns the property, but as a tenant you are entitled to the right of exclusive possession. Make sure your tenancy agreement gives you this right.
Be wary of tenancy agreements where your utility bills are shared with others– always try to ensure that all your bills like electricity, water etc. are in your name (or linked only to your house/apartment), so you know what you are liable for.
Some landlords make their tenants sign tenancy agreements which stipulate automatic rent increases at intervals. Now, while there is nothing illegal about increasing the rent, there are provisions in the Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 which govern how much the rent can be increased by
If your Tenancy Agreement has provisions absolving the landlord in advance of any liability for negligence or carelessness, then please note that such an agreement is unlikely to be upheld by the courts, however you should still try to get them removed from your tenancy agreement anyway. The cost of going to court for an issue with a tenancy agreement is quite tedious and expensive.
If you are going to be renting with a friend and not your spouse, you should consider getting a ‘Roommate Agreement’. This is more from a practical perspective, and not really from a legal perspective (although it will still be legally binding). The roommate agreement sets out the expectations of the roommates, and how the household will be run and organised, that way everything is laid out on the table and nothing is unsaid.
Finally you should know that if there’s a break clause in the tenancy agreement, your landlord can give you notice after this. However, your landlord doesn’t have a guaranteed right to possession during the first 6 months of the tenancy. A break clause is a clause in a tenancy agreement that provides both tenant and landlord the opportunity to terminate the tenancy agreement early during the fixed-term. Essentially, either party can “break” the tenancy before the fixed end date, if the correct procedures and minimum protection contained in the relevant Law is followed.
As a tenant, you are entitled to request from your landlord that you have a written tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement is an important document because it basically outlines the terms of your tenancy in the property, in fact one could argue that this is the most important right of every tenant. Landlords can refuse to issue a tenancy agreement, but if your landlord does not give you one, then you should be very wary. In tenancy agreements of over 3 years, it is mandatory that the agreement be in writing.
Unfortunately, even when the landlord issues a tenancy agreement, most tenants just sign the documents without reviewing it properly. Ideally this agreement should be reviewed by a legal expert.
We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. It is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.