An eviction is the court-ordered removal of a tenant from the property where they reside.
Under section 25 of the Lagos Tenancy law 2011, a landlord can start the eviction process when any of the following occurs:
- The tenant is in arrears of rent;
- The tenant is in breach of any covenant or agreement as contained in the Tenancy agreement;
- Where the premises is required by the landlord for personal use;
- The premises is used for immoral or illegal purposes;
- The premises has been abandoned
- The premises is unsafe and unsound as to constitute a danger to human life or property;
- The tenant constitutes by conduct an act of intolerable nuisance or induces a breach of tenancy agreement.
However, where the landlord intends to terminate the lease before or after effluxion of time, the landlord or authorized agents (for example a lawyer or agent/caretaker) are obligated to issue the statutory notices to the tenant.
NOTICE TO QUIT
A Notice to Quit is a formal legal document a landlord sends to a tenant in an attempt to fix a lease violation or to recover possession of a property. In most cases, before a landlord can formally file to evict a tenant, the landlord must first serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit.
This Notice gives the tenant a chance to fix the issue. It informs them that they have a certain number of days to fix the violation or the landlord will begin eviction proceedings against them.
However, when a tenancy is for a definite term and has been determined by effluxion of time there is no need for notice to quit but a Seven (7) days notice of owner’s intention to recover possession.
In IHEANACHO V. UZOCHUKWU(1997) 2 N.W.L.R. (PT. 487) 257 AT 268-270, H-A the Supreme Court set out the procedure for recovery of premises as follows:
A landlord desiring to recover possession of premises let to his tenant shall:
- Firstly, unless the tenancy has expired, determine the tenancy by service on the tenant an appropriate notice to quit.
- On the determination of the tenancy, he shall serve the tenant with the statutory 7day notice of intention to apply to court to recover possession of the premises.
- Thereafter, he shall file his action in court and may only proceed to recover possession of the premises according to law in terms of the judgment of the court in the action.
Section 12 of the Lagos tenancy law 2011 gives provision for the right of the landlord to issue and serve a tenant a notice to quit if he wants to recover the property for personal use or on the grounds that a tenant has breached the covenant.
WHO CAN ISSUE A NOTICE TO QUIT?
1). A landlord can issue a notice to quit being the legal owner of the property by declaring his grounds for possession as personal use or breach of covenant by the tenant.
2). A lawyer acting on behalf of the landlord can issue a notice to quit. However, such must state that the landlord had given him the power of attorney or authorization to do so.
3). An agent/Caretaker: An agent acting as the representative of the landlord can issue a notice to quit if the power of attorney has been bestowed upon him. Such an agent must be a person who is acquainted with the tenants.
WHO CAN SERVE A NOTICE TO QUIT?
It is a common misconception that a court bailiff must serve the 7 days’ notice! This is probably because only a court bailiff can lawfully eject a tenant from a demised property. However, service of the 7 days’ notice can be done by a landlord or the agent (Lawyer, caretaker etc.). Thus, said person has to paste the said notice on the gate or building in question and for further evidence, take a picture of what has been pasted, capturing the house or building number appropriate to the demised property in question, then send said picture to the tenant. The notice can also be served to the tenant in person.
Note that a notice to quit must have been duly served on the tenant before serving a 7 days’ notice otherwise known as owner’s intention to recover premises. The timeframe for valid eviction notices can be determined by the tenancy agreement, but if the agreement fails to specify said timeframe, the timeframe will be determined by the operation of law based on the period of the tenancy and the mode of payment of rent as follows (section 13 Lagos state tenancy law 2011):
If the tenancy is on a weekly basis, you are entitled to 7 days’ Notice to Quit
- Tenancy at will – 7 days’ notice to quit
- Monthly tenancy – 1-month notice to quit
- Quarterly tenancy – 3 months’ notice to quit
- Half-yearly tenancy – 3 months’ notice to quit
- Yearly tenancy – 6 months’ notice to quit.
A landlord’s intention to recover possession will be valid only if statutory notice has been served to the tenant, at the appropriate time depending on the tenancy agreement and the law applicable in the area.
WHO CAN ENFORCE A TENANT’s EVICTION?
If a tenant neglect or refuse to give up possession, the landlord can get a lawyer to apply to the appropriate court to recover possession of the property. Only the court bailiff has the power to physically remove the tenant and the tenant’s belonging.
WHEN IS A NOTICE TO QUIT NECESSARY?
Service of a notice to quit is not always a condition precedent for recovery of premises. A notice to quit is ONLY necessary for the determination of a tenancy, where the tenancy has not been determined.
WHEN DOES A NOTICE TO QUIT BECOME IRRELEVANT?
A Notice to Quit becomes irrelevant where a tenant is in arrears of rent for a specific period provided by statute. Simply put, once a Tenancy has been determined by the effluxion of time, a Notice to Quit becomes irrelevant. Once a yearly tenant does not pay his/her rent as at when it becomes due for payment, the tenancy is automatically determined and converted to a tenancy at will; which requires only the service of a 7 day notice of the owner’s intention to recover possession. Non-payment of rent changes the nature of periodic tenancy, even in Lagos.
This issue was considered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in the case of BOCAS NIGERIA LTD v. WEMABOD ESTATES LTD (2016) LPELR-40193(CA). The Court held thus: “Cases of tenancy at will are common where a tenant for a fixed term holds over the property with consent of the landlord while negotiations for further lease are going on. The general rule is that if a tenant pays rent during this period, he becomes a periodic tenant, e.g. if he pays a year’s rent, then he is a yearly tenant.”
Conclusively, once the tenancy has been determined by effluxion of time, a Notice to quit becomes irrelevant. Thus, from the day the tenancy expires by effluxion of time, the landlord is NOT under any obligation whatsoever to issue the tenant a notice to quit. The Landlord is only required to serve the statutory 7day notice of his intention to recover possession of the tenant as decided in the case of SPLINTERS (NIG.) LTD V. OASIS FINANCE LTD (2013) 18 N.W.L.R. (PT. 1385) 188 AT 220
We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note this article is intended to give general guide on the subject matter and is not intended to give legal advice. If you require legal support on tenancy issues, kindly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org