One of the most common reasons for Nigerian landlords wanting to evict tenants out of their rental property is because they are no longer paying rent as they agreed to. Unfortunately, even the best tenants can experience unexpected difficulties that impede their ability to pay rent. A job loss or business closure, a major medical condition, or a change in family status are just a few of the situations that may prevent a tenant from paying rent, even if they want to. However, non payment of rent is a breach of the tenancy agreement.
As a landlord, no matter the amount owed by your tenant, there are a few things that you are never allowed to do, without proper court permission; forcefully remove tenant from the property, change the locks without notice, remove tenant property, turn off utilities, harass them by intentionally causing problems at the property or blackmail them. As much as you may want a tenant to leave, it is never right to do these things. All of these actions are illegal and the tenant can depending on the circumstance, pursue a claim against you for damages, wrongful eviction and trespass.
According to Lawpadi, we would be looking at how to properly evict a tenant under the Lagos State Tenancy law. However, it is imperative to note that eviction can have devastating effects on the person being evicted, including homelessness. Before starting the eviction process, negotiate with the tenant. If you have a good relationship with the tenant, talk to them. Determine whether the two of you can come to a solution that avoids eviction. At this point many tenants will agree to move out without a formal eviction or pay rent.
If you are unable to amicably resolve the tenant’s rent problem, you can start the eviction process. The procedures to evict a tenant who does not pay rent are discussed below.
Issuance of Late Rent Notice
This is usually the first step when the reason for the eviction is for non-payment of the rent. Under the tenancy law, the landlord is required to have made several demands on the tenant by issue a letter titled “Late Rent Notice” to the tenant. This would also serve as the evidence in court, when the landlord seek an order of possession and an order for the recovery of unpaid rent in court.
Issuance of a Notice to Quit
If the tenant hasn’t pay rent after the expiration of the late rent notice and the landlord intends to terminate the lease. The landlord or an authorized agent, (for example his lawyer) should issue a notice to quit on the tenant. if he is already 6 months in arrears of rent or according to your agreement with him. The notice to quit is a statutory requirement for the termination of all forms of periodic tenancies. The rules guiding the issuance of notice to quit provides that the length of notice to quit is to be issued in accordance with the tenancy agreement, between the landlord and tenant. For instance if both parties agreed that a two month notice would be given in the case of yearly tenancy. However, where there is no tenancy agreement, or if the tenancy agreement does not state the length of the notice, then the provision of the law will apply. In this case, under the Lagos State Tenancy Law, the following provisions will apply:
a. for a yearly tenant, at least 6 months’ notice must be given;
b. for a quarterly or half-yearly tenant, at least 3 months’ notice must be given;
c. for a monthly tenant, at least one month’s notice must be given; and
d. for a weekly tenant, at least a week’s notice must be given.
According to the law, the landlord is not required to issue the notice to quit on a tenant in a fixed-term lease provided the lease term has expired.and in this case, the landlord can issue a seven days owner’s intention to recover possession.
Issuance Of Owner’s Intention To Recover Possession
After the expiration of the notice to quit, the tenant is expected to vacate the premises and surrender possession. However, in reality, some tenants remain on the property either due to the needed resources to move elsewhere or due to being adamant. At this point the landlord or his/her lawyer will then issue a Seven days’ Owner’s Intention to Recover Possession to the tenant. This notice is a notice informing the tenant of the intention of the landlord to apply to court and recover the premises from the tenant. At this point, the tenant many decide to move. Note that this type of notice is required for the two forms of leases (fixed and periodic leases).
Commencement of Action in Court
If the tenant still refuses to vacate after the seven days notice, then you are expected to approach the court for an order of eviction to recover Possession . The landlord can in addition to the claim for recovery, make claims for arrears of rent and mense profits. This step will entail a court process that requires the calling of witnesses and other evidences. After the magistrate has heard the matter, the court will make an order, evicting the tenant immediately or on a specific date, if it is proven that he is in arrears of rent.The court will also award damages and mesne profits to the landlord. The mesne profit is the accumulated rent during the trial period. It begins to count from the moment the tenant became a statutory tenant ;a tenant that can only be evicted by order of court. Alternatively, if your tenant wins the hearing, they will continue to enjoy the right to remain on the property. The judge may also order you to pay the tenant’s legal fees, as well as other damages that the tenant may have suffered due to the eviction action.
Evict the Tenant
If a court rules in your favor, your tenant will have a certain amount of days in which to leave the premises. If they have not left after that time period has expired, you may contact local law enforcement to have the tenant arrested and removed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and not to be taken as legal advice. If you are considering evicting a tenant for non-payment, you will need to consult with an experienced lawyer.