Chinyere came into Lagos in 2008 with dreams of getting a good job with a juicy pay package. She started out staying with a friend in Akoka, until she was able to rent a miniflat in Bariga in 2010. After taking several low paying jobs, Chinyere got a marketing position with a new generation bank in Lagos Island and began preparing to enjoy life as a banker. She sub-leased a room in a 2-bedroom apartment located at Ikoyi from her co-worker Adenike. it was agreed that in consideration of the use of the room and common areas in the apartment, Chinyere would pay Adenike an annual rent of N500,000 to the existing tenant, being 50% of the N1 million charged on the property
Things went relatively well until Chinyere had a minor disagreement around 18 months after Chinyere moved in. After the disagreement, Adenike became hostile and and disagreeable towards Chinyere with the object of making her uncomfortable in the house. At the end of the tenancy, Adenike informed Chinyere that she would not be renewing the tenancy and as a result, Chinyere would be required to quit the room she was occupying with immediate effect.
Chinyere was shocked beyond belief! This possibly could not be legal. From her little knowledge of the law, an annual tenant was entitled to 6 months quit notice. She confronted Adenike with this information, and Adenike bluntly informed her that she was not tenant but a mere occupier who could be summarily required to quit the premises, asking her to present any proof of rent payment or a tenancy agreement between the parties. At this point Chinyere was flummoxed! it appeared she had been hoodwinked by her friend; she sought out legal advice to understand whether she had any rights against Adenike, or if her rights were extinguished by the lack of a rent receipt.
Chinyere’s case is special, because amongst other provisions, Section 1 of the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 provides that the Law would not apply in the Ikoyi Area- However, this does not preclude her rights as a tenant.
It has been severally stated by the different courts that a tenancy relationship is deemed to exist where exclusive possession of a premises or a portion of a premises are granted by the landlord/sub-lessor to a Tenant/Sub-Lessee, for valuable consideration-no matter how small such consideration may be. This implies that the rent must have been paid in cash for this provision of law to apply.
Furthermore whilst Section 5 of the Lagos state Tenancy Law expressly criminalizes the non- issuance of a tenancy receipt, the law stipulates that once the tenant can prove that a rent has been paid, a tenancy will be deemed to have commenced in favor of the tenant and the Landlord cannot claim that a tenancy does not exist, even though a written tenancy agreement may not exist in the circumstances. Thus it is advisable for the tenant to always have proof of payment of the rent, either in form of a teller, an acknowledged photocopy of the cheque used in the payment of the rent, or any other proof of payment.
Consequently, having received monetary consideration, Adenike is precluded from evicting Chinyere without following the due process of issuing the statutory 6-month and 7-day notices. In this situation, Chinyere may take the matter to the Citizens Mediation Centre to facilitate the amicable resolution of the matter, or she may proceed to the courts to enforce her legal rights.