There was a time in Lagos when some landlords would remove the roof, doors or windows of the apartment of a tenant whom they desired to evict. Others would disconnect the tenant from water or electricity supply in a bid to force the client into vacating the property out of sheer inconvenience. Even in these more civilized times, we sometimes come across the irate landlord who desires to evict his tenant through the use of force or intimidation. In such situations our advice is always constant….FOLLOW THE LAW!!!
Now if you are a tenant (and most Lagosians are…) and you have the poor luck of drawing a shylock landlord who is interested in intimidating his tenants into submission, here are some ways in which you could protect yourself from the vagaries of your landlord problems.
- NEVER pay through cash or by bank transfer!!! if possible, pay by cheque and make a photocopy of the cheque for acknowledgement by the landlord or his agent. Alternatively, you can request the landlords account number and pay the money directly into their account. This provides you with evidence of payment.
- As much as possible, ensure that your landlord provides you with a written agreement. In the event that he cannot provide one immediately, you can instruct your lawyer to draft a rental contract containing the elements of the transaction.
- Always conduct a physical inspection of the property to determine whether there are any patent defects to the property, check the plumbing works, electric connections amongst others.
- Always change the locks to the front and rear doors.
- A landlord seeking to recover possession of his premises before the expiration of the tenancy (effluxion of time) is obliged to issue a notice to quit.
- Always ensure that you keep records of any repairs made on the property and the costs of effecting such repairs, and ensure that your landlord undertakes in writing to either reimburse you for the costs of repairs or convert the costs into rent for any succeeding period.
- If the landlords desires to recover possession of the property, he must give you appropriate notice based on the tenure of your tenancy. The statutory length of the notice must be complete between service and the expected date of expiry. Also, where the situation requires a month’s notice, it must be one calendar month and if it is a yearly tenancy, it must be six calendar months and no less.
- Your landlord has no right to enter your house without your consent, if he does so he can be held liable for breaking and entering if he does so
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