How to Legally Evict a Tenant from your house in Nigeria

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For many landlords or agents, evicting a tenant may be a difficult job. Because of the difficulties of the issue, these individuals frequently resort to self-help tactics to remove tenants from their homes. Other than the law, self-help is the use of force or effort to evict a tenant from a property. Changing the tenant’s building’s key locks, deploying uniformed officers to forcibly remove the tenant’s possessions from the premises, and so on are examples of self-help techniques.

In the eviction of a tenant, the law specifies a method that must be followed. This implies that a landlord cannot simply decide to remove a tenant because he or she is the owner of the property

This article discusses how to evict a tenant from a property in Nigeria.  Both landlords and tenants would benefit from this since they will understand the procedures and conditions that might lead to eviction under Nigerian law.

Both landlords and tenants would benefit from this since they will understand the requirements and conditions that might lead to eviction under Nigerian law.

Read Factors to be considered before entering into a tenancy or lease agreement in Nigeria

Steps to follow before a landlord can evict a tenant here in Nigeria?

The first thing to remember is that in Nigeria, a landlord cannot remove a tenant whenever and wherever he just feels to do so. The landlord must first serve a formal eviction notice on the tenant. Even if the tenant ignores the notifications and continues on the premises after the eviction notices have expired, the landlord must proceed with a formal eviction by Order of Court. Extrajudicial actions or procedures to evict a tenant from a property are illegal in Nigeria. In fact, if a tenant uses self-help tactics, he or she may be able to sue the landlord for damages based on wrongful eviction or trespass.

First Step: When evicting a tenant, the first step is to determine if the tenant owes rent. If this is the case, the landlord or any other authorized agent must provide the tenant with a Late Rent Notice. A landlord can seek an order of possession and an order for the collection of overdue rent in court under Nigerian law. The landlord will be needed to produce evidence of non-payment of rent in court in order for justice to be granted.

Second Step: If the landlord wants to end the tenancy, he or she must give the tenant a notice to vacate. If the lease term has ended and it is a fixed-term lease, the landlord is not obligated to send a notice to vacate under Nigerian law. The landlord can issue a seven-day owner’s intention to regain possession notice if the lease term has expired.

If the lease is for a certain amount of time, the length of the notice to vacate is determined by the parties’ agreement. In most agreements, the length of time the landlord must provide a notice is already specified. Other legal requirements apply in instances when the contract does not specify the period of notice. The Lagos State Tenancy Law, for example, states:

  • The landlord will provide a six-month notice to a yearly tenant.
  • For a tenant who pays on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, the landlord must give at least three months’ notice.
  • A monthly tenant must be given at least one month’s notice by the landlord.
  • A weekly tenant must be given at least one week’s notice by the landlord.

Third step: If the tenant refuses to vacate the rental property after completing all of the appropriate steps, the landlord can issue a seven-day owner’s intention to regain possession to the tenant.

Fourth step: The landlord can file a court action to reclaim the premises after receiving a seven-day notice of the owner’s desire to reclaim possession. Rent arrears and other earnings might also be claimed by the landlord.

Evicting a tenant in court involves the participation of witnesses and the presentation of additional evidence to the court. After that, the judge will issue a ruling requiring the renter to evacuate the premises immediately or by a certain date.

If a tenant refuses to quit the rental property after being presented with eviction papers, what steps should be taken?

If a tenant refuses to vacate despite receiving a 7-day notice, the landlord can hire a lawyer to file a court case to reclaim control of the property. A court bailiff is the only person who has the authority to physically remove a tenant and his or her possessions. The law forbids you from evicting the tenant on your own.

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Conditions to be met before a landlord can evict a tenant from his house

What reasons does a landlord have to cancel a tenancy agreement and evict tenants from his or her premises?

A landlord can end a tenancy agreement and start eviction proceedings against a tenant if the following conditions are met:

  • When a tenant fails to pay his or her rent: The landlord can commence the eviction procedure if a tenant fails to pay the rent even after being warned in writing via a late rent notice.
  • If a tenant engages in an unlawful activity on the leased premises: If a tenant engages in unlawful acts on the landlord’s property, such as robbery or prostitution, the landlord has the right to remove the tenant.
  • When the tenant has broken a lease agreement term or condition: In Nigeria, a landlord has the authority to evict a tenant if the tenant has broken any previously agreed-upon terms, as this is considered a breach of contract.
  • If the landlord wants to use the premises: If the landlord wants to use the rental property, he or she has the authority to evict the occupant. If the lease is for a certain period of time, the landlord must wait for the term to expire before notifying the tenant of the impending eviction.
  • If the landlord wishes to make structural repairs to the property, the tenant may be evicted from the rental property if it requires repairs and is deemed unfit for habitation.
  • If the tenant has abandoned the rental property: If a renter abandons the rental property, the landlord has the right to evict them.
  • When a tenant has caused significant damage to the rental property
  • If the tenant violates the lease agreement by renting the property to a third party,
  • If the renter is interfering with the rights of other tenants as well as your own, you should terminate the lease.
  • When he or she is becoming a nuisance in the neighborhood

When dealing with situations like eviction between a landlord and a tenant, Nigerian law provides adequate rules that must be followed.

Read Factors to be considered before entering into a tenancy or lease agreement in Nigeria

Frequently Asked Questions on issues faced by Landlords and Tenants

Who is responsible for making repairs to the rental property?

The landlord is solely responsible for the rental property’s structural and external repairs; you are responsible for the interior repairs and minor wear and tear maintenance. If you carry out structural and external repairs on the property with the landlord’s prior written approval, you will be entitled to compensation from the landlord for the cost of the repairs.

Is it possible for the landlord to increase the rent?

Some states have Rent Control Laws in existence, however, the clauses of such laws prohibiting landlords from raising rents arbitrarily are rarely enforced in court.

What options do I have if my landlord receives rent but refuses to give me a possession of the rental property?

One of the landlord’s responsibilities is to make sure the property is ready for the tenant to move in on the agreed-upon date. If the property is not ready, you can cancel the agreement and request a rent return in writing from the landlord. Get a lawyer to do the following if the landlord refuses to repay the rent:

  • Pursue the landlord for the money owed to you as rent.
  • Bring a lawsuit against the landlord for violation of the contract.
  • If you’re still interested in the rental property, go to court and ask for specific performance.
  • Make a claim for specific damages resulting from the landlord’s violation of the contract. You would have to show that the landlord had a reasonable expectation that you would incur damages as a result of the landlord’s failure to make the property available.
  • If the landlord’s actions appear to be criminal, your lawyer may file a security agency complaint regarding the suspected advance fee fraud and criminal breach of trust by the landlord. Your lawyer in the North can file a straight criminal complaint against the landlord without the necessity for the Attorney General’s approval.

Is it possible for my landlord to access my rental apartment at any time?

If there is an emergency or if you have abandoned the property, the landlord has the right to enter. The landlord can also access the property after providing you with a notice of entry if he wishes to inspect it, make repairs, or display it to a possible buyer.

Is it possible for me to have visitors on the rental property?

Yes, your visitors are welcome to come to the rental home. However, if the lease has a stipulation limiting how long guests can stay on the premises, the landlord can order the guest(s) to depart.

What are my primary responsibilities as a tenant?

By signing the tenancy agreement, you agree to adhere to all of the lease’s written and implied requirements, including paying rent on time, paying utility bills on time, reporting any property damage to the landlord, maintaining the cleanliness of the premises, and so on.

Is it possible for the landlord or the tenant to modify the lease agreement at any time?

The tenancy/lease agreement can only be modified with the other party’s consent. The landlord, on the other hand, has the right to raise the rent at any time.

Who has the authority to remove a subtenant?

A subtenant can be evicted by the landlord. If you take on the position of the landlord, you may be allowed to remove subtenants if you have a direct lease arrangement with them or have collected rent from them.

What happens when my lease term ends?

At the end of the lease period, the landlord has the option to terminate the lease. This means that your landlord is not obligated to extend your lease or enable you to remain in the property. If your lease agreement included a renewal option, your landlord should provide you advanced notice that your lease will not be renewed. If there is no formal agreement to extend the lease for another period when your initial term expires, you must vacate the property and hand over ownership to the landlord.

You have the option to renegotiate your lease and sign a new one with your landlord. You become a periodic tenant of the landlord if the landlord continues to take rent from you after the initial term has ended.

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Is it true that my landlord did not provide me with a sufficient eviction notice?

Even though your landlord did not provide you with enough eviction notice to end your periodic lease, the notice is still valid. The expiration date may be construed by the court to begin counting from the day you were served with the notice.

It’s worth noting that the deadline for legitimate eviction notifications may be defined by your lease agreement. If no agreement is reached, the timeframe will be decided by the operation of law, which will be based on the length of your lease and your method of rent payment, as follows:

  • You are entitled to 7 days’ notice if your tenancy is on a weekly basis. 7-day notice to quit tenancy at will
  • Monthly tenancy with a one-month notice period
  • Three months’ notice is required for a quarterly tenancy.
  • 3 months’ notice is required for a half-yearly tenancy.
  • Yearly tenancy with a 6-month notice period to vacate.

What should I do now that my landlord has served me with legitimate quit and eviction notices?

You have the option of acting in accordance with the eviction notice and packing out the premises. You also have the option of doing nothing and staying on the property. If you choose the latter, your landlord will have to take legal action against you in order to reclaim the property.

If my landlord files an eviction complaint against me, what defenses do I have?

If your landlord files a court action to reclaim possession of your rental property, you may be able to argue that the landlord did not follow proper eviction procedures; or that you withheld rent because the landlord failed to make necessary structural repairs despite repeated demands; or that you were not compensated for your improvements. If you were ejected without cause by your landlord, you may be entitled to trespass damages.

Is it possible to raise the rent?

Yes, however, you should first negotiate with the tenant or provide proper notice before raising the rent.

Is it possible for a tenant to refuse my entrance into the property?

If you give your tenant enough notice, he or she cannot refuse your access, but he or she may propose an alternate day and time.

Can I evict a tenant without their consent?

You are unable to do so. The written eviction notice must be sent to the tenant. If the tenant continues to occupy the property after the eviction notices have expired, you must initiate a formal eviction process to evict him by court order. Self-help or extrajudicial action by a landlord to evict a tenant is disapproved upon by the court. If you employ self-help or the police against a renter, the tenant may file a claim against you for damages, wrongful eviction, and trespass, depending on the circumstances.

What should I do if the renter refuses to leave the rental property after eviction letters have been served?

If the tenant fails or refuses to give up possession after the time stated on the Notice of Owner’s Intention to Apply to Court to Recover Possession of the Property (also known as “7 days’ Notice”) has expired, you should hire a lawyer to apply to the appropriate court to reclaim possession of the property. The court bailiff is the only one who has the authority to physically remove the renter and his or her possessions. The law forbids you from evicting the renter on your own.

What reasons do I have to cancel the tenancy agreement and evict the tenant?

You have the right to terminate the tenancy agreement and initiate eviction proceedings against a tenant who is in arrears of rent, is causing a nuisance, is conducting illegal activities in the leased property, has violated a term or condition in the lease agreement, has seriously damaged the rental property, or has sublet the demised premises to a third party in violation of the lease agreement.

If you are in a dispute over a rental property, or if you have questions about your legal rights as a landlord or a tenant, or if you wish to remove tenants from your houses, or if you are now facing eviction from your landlord and you don’t know how to go about it, get legal representation who has experience in handling cases like this inorder to seek for professional assistance.

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