It is a known fact that searching for an apartment in Nigeria is an overwhelming task. Usually, you’d find that either the houses within your budget do not meet your standards or the houses that meet your expectations are way above your budget. Now, imagine going through all of that stress and not being aware of your rights as a tenant after you’ve settled for a house. Sad, right?
It’s okay if you have made mistakes in the past. This post outlines crucial rights you should know and demand if they’re not in place.
- Right to the issuance of receipt of payment: Once you have paid your rent, you should request for a receipt of payment signed by either the landlord, his lawyer or any authorized agent acting on his behalf. The receipt will be prima facie evidence of your right to the property you have rented. It should show the amount paid and also the location of the property. In Lagos, for instance, failure to issue a receipt of payment is an offence under the Lagos Tenancy Law.
- Right to a written agreement: Even though the law permits for oral tenancy agreement, it is advisable to opt for a written agreement because that way, it is easier to prove in the court of law. Be careful, however; ensure the written agreement is fit for the purpose of the contract you plan on entering into. There’s nothing safer than having your lawyer go through it to make sure it represents all your interests.
- Right to exclusive possession: The minute you have entered into a contract with the landlord, you have exclusive rights to the property pending the period of your tenancy. As such, your landlord has no right to enter into your property without your permission. Doing so is considered to be trespassing. Even maintenance of the property has to be done with your approval because of your exclusive possession during the duration of your tenancy. You also have the right to use the property as you wish subject to the covenants agreed in the contract.
- Right to notice to quit before eviction: This is one right you must never forget because Nigerian tenants are usually ignorant this. Before you are evicted from the property you have rented, you must be given a quit notice, and the number of days is subject to the period of your tenancy:
- A one-year (or above) tenancy will require at least a notice of 6 months
- A one-month tenancy will require a minimum notice of one month
- A one-week tenancy will require a minimum notice of one week
After this, you also entitled to a 7-day notice to recover possession. If all of these steps aren’t carried out, the landlord will not have the right to an action for eviction in court.
- Right to habitable premises: The property which you are renting has to be fit for the purpose of which you are renting it whether it is for living or office work. All latent defects in the house have to be fixed by the landlord. This also applies to issues that have to deal with fixtures or reasonable wear and tears to the building.
Regardless of how much you paid for rent or what type of building you are renting, your landlord owes you all the rights mentioned above as the law is very clear on these terms. The safest way to avoid being manipulated by landlords is to ensure that you are armed with a lawyer and a real estate agent right from the negotiation to the conclusion stage.