Land Law

Rights And Responsibilities Of A Tenant

A tenant is A person who has the right to temporary use and possession of a particular real property, which has been conveyed to that person by a landlord. A tenant and landlord relationship is one that you can find almost everywhere in society, and in every community. As a result, it is important that there are terms guiding the relationship, and providing for what is expected of each party and what each party is to expect. This article discusses what a tenant should expect and what is expected of a tenant.

Rights Of A Tenant

Issuance of receipt: After making payment for the premise, a tenant is entitled to a receipt: The receipt is to contain the amount paid, the address of the property, and how long the tenancy will last. Where a receipt is not issued, the Lagos Tenancy Law provides for a fine of 100,000 naira to be paid by the landlord.

A written tenancy agreement: A tenant must be given a Tenancy Agreement that he will go through and thereafter sign once he agrees with the terms. Oral agreements are permissible, however, it is better to have the agreement written down so it can be improved upon, and it is easily enforceable in court compared to an oral one.

Peaceful possession of premises: A tenant is entitled to peaceful possession of the premises. Before the law, the place solely belongs to the tenant for the duration of the tenancy. Exclusive possession means “using the premise to the exclusion of all others which includes the landlord”. This means that the landlord or any other person entering the premises requires the consent of the tenant and without such consent, entrance will amount to trespass.

Quit Notice: A tenant has a right to be issued a Notice to Quit before eviction from the premises. The notice is given based on the type of tenancy; weekly tenants are entitled to a week’s notice, monthly tenants are entitled to two weeks’ notice, yearly tenants are entitled to 6 months’ notice.

Covenants From The Tenant To The Landlord

Covenants are pledges by each party to do or not to do an act.  It is an agreement or promise by the parties in which either of them pledges himself to the other that something is either done, shall be done, or shall not be done.  Covenants from the tenant to the landlord can be seen as their responsibilities to the landlord and in the occupation of the premise. These covenants include:

Covenants to use: The tenant is to use the property for the purpose for which it was rented alone. If the property is rented for residential purposes then it must be used for residential purposes alone and not for commercial purposes. The tenant must also ensure his use of the property must not inconvenience or put his neighbors in danger. Where this clause is not expressly stated in the tenancy agreement, the tenant must ensure his use of the property is not illegal or immoral.

Covenant to pay rent: Rent is paid by the tenant to the landlord for the use of the property for a specific period of time. The tenant must ensure to pay rent at the due time and in the manner prescribed. The landlord cannot enforce the payment of the rent where it is not provided for in the agreement. Therefore, the agreement must provide for how and when the rent is to be paid.  Where the rent is not paid the landlord can take an action in court to recover the money, seize the goods of the tenant to satisfy the rent, an action for forfeiture in court depending on whether there is a provision for forfeiture in the agreement.

Covenant to pay rates and charges: These rates and charges include bills like light bills, water bills, and other related bills. The agreement states who is responsible to pay the rates and charges, however, it is usually the tenant who is responsible for paying such rates. Where the obligation to pay is placed on the tenant and he fails to do so, he becomes liable for a breach and the landlord can sue and seek an order of repossession of the premises for breach of the covenant.

Covenant on assignment or sub-letting: The tenant is to covenant not to assign, sublet, or part with possession of the premise or a part of it. This means that the tenant cannot sublet any part of the premise to another person. However, this must also be stated expressly in the covenant. Where it is not expressly stated, the tenant can sublet the premises without the consent of the landlord.




About Lois Olagoke-Danie

Lois Olagoke-Daniel is a legal practitioner called to the Nigerian bar in 2021. A graduate of Afe Babalola University with excellent communication, organization, and project skills. She is a lawyer that has a wild thirst for knowledge and also shares this knowledge with all those within reach.