Quit Notice: Professor. Famewo is a Professor of Geography at the University of Nigerian, Nsukka. He acquired a three bedroom flat and a boys quarter in 2013 as part of his new year resolution. However, since he is currently resident at the Staff Quarters of the University and he’s also a landlord, he decided to let out the house.
In February 2014, Mr. George rented the three Bedroom flat at the rate of N240,000 (Two Hundred and Fourty Thousand Naira only) per annum and agreed to be paying his rent yearly. In March 2015, Prof. Famewo met his childhood friend, Mr. Chukwu who had just relocated to Nsukka and was in need of an accommodation. He graciously allowed Mr. Chukwu to occupy the boys quarter at no cost considering the nice time they had together in their early days.
On the 20th of June, 2016, Professor Famewo served both Mr. George and Mr. Chukwu notice that they should quit the house the following day because he needs it for personal use. Mr. Chukwu just called me on phone insisting that he won’t agree because he didn’t beg him for a house before he willing told him to stay but he wants to be sure if he can follow the steps of Mr. George who just pack all his loads and locked the house and left.
On the 25th of June, 2016, Professor Famewo got a carpenter to break the padlock and forcefully gained entrance into the house. Mr. George got information concerning this and he made an official report to the police while claiming that Professor Famewo forcefully gained entrance into his apartment and stole his N2,000,000 (Two Million Naira).
Points to Note:
1. A landlord and tenant relationship is strictly governed by Law and a landlord who seeks to recover his premises from a tenant must strictly comply with the provisions of the relevant Laws.
2. A landlord is a person entitled to immediate reversion of the premises and includes the attorney or agent of any such landlord or any person receiving (whether in his own right or as an attorney or agent) any rent from any person for the occupation of any accommodation in respect of which he claims a right to receive same.
3. A tenant includes any person occupying premises, whether on payment of rent or otherwise, but does not include a person occupying premises under a claim (in good faith) to be the owner of the premises.
4. Laws have been enacted at different levels principally to provide for procedures a landlord must comply with or adopt to recover possession. Such procedures are primarily to protect the interest of the tenant against that of the landlord.
5. The general Law is that the landlord on the expiration of the time rent or expiration of a valid notice to quit, may proceed to court for possession.
6. The Laws governing the Recovery of Premises requires an additional 7 days notice of owner’s intention to apply to court to recover possession to be given to the tenant. The landlord can only take out a writ after the expiration of the 7 days. The tenant therefore becomes a statutory tenant and cannot be evicted by force, except by a lawful court order.
7. The landlord can be sued and made liable for damages. In essence, resort to self-help by the landlord to evict a tenant who is in lawful occupation is not lawful and such a landlord renders himself liable to the tenant in trespass. Yes! You can sue the Landlord for pouring away your precious garri in this recession period.
8. Before a Landlord can recover a house, (1) there must be in existence some “premises” which is defined by law as “a house or building or any part thereof together with its gardens or other appurtenances” and (2) the landlord-tenant relationship must be established.
NB: The position of most Courts is that the landlord must still comply with the procedure laid down in the law even if there is no landlord-tenant relationship; provided the person sought to be evicted is in lawful occupation.
9. A landlord seeking to recover possession of his premises before the expiration of the tenancy is obliged to issue a notice to quit popularly called “Quit Notice”. The notice stipulates a period within which the tenant must quit possession of the premises.
10. The period of notice given will usually depend on the agreement between the parties. In the absence of any agreement, the period of notice will be determined by provisions of the Law. The period of notice to be given by either party is as set out below:
Tenancy at will (squatters) or weekly tenancy – 1 week’s notice
Monthly tenancy- 1 month’s notice
Quarterly tenancy- 3 months’ notice
Yearly tenancy- 6 months’ notice.
NB: Tenancy exceeding one year is regarded as a yearly tenancy and 6 months notice is sufficient.
Warning!!! The Calculation is not mathematics and it’s more of a legal technicality. Professors of Economics from Ijebu should take note.
11. It is after the expiration of the period of notice that another 7days notice (notice of owner’s intention to recover possession) mentioned above will be issued and the notices to quit must be issued by the landlord himself or by an authorized agent or Solicitor.
NB: It should be noted that it is the date the tenant gets the notice and not the date on the notice that is important.
12. When time stated in the notice of intention to apply to recover possession has lapsed, if the tenant or any person in possession of the premises still fails, refuses or neglects to give up possession, then the landlord or his agent may apply to the appropriate court for the issuance of a writ against the tenant or such other person neglecting to refusing to deliver up possession.
Did I just hear somebody shout “Haaa….someone will go and spend money again”? Calm down! In most cases, the Court in delivering the judgement orders such a tenant to pay the Landlord the cost of the litigation.
Yes! You already know the position of both Mr. George and Mr. Chukwu?
Professor Famewo should have just served Mr. George 6months Notice to Quit and subsequently 7days notice of his intention to recover possession. If he had done that and the tenant still refused to leave, he should have ejected him by the order of the Court. He will also urge the Court to order him to pay any amount of rent he’s owing.
On the other hand, Professor Famewo should have served Mr. Chukwu (who is not a tenant) 7 days notice and then subsequently proceed to the Court to obtain the order to eject him.
NB: If the members of the Police Force later discovered Mr. George lied that Professor Famewo stole his money, the former may be arraigned at sentenced to a jail term of about 10years or more. However, I’m sure you all know the suffering such landlord would have gone through in the hands of the policemen before the truth is ascertained.
MY LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede is the Founder/CEO of THE LEGAL DIARY.
He is a Double First Class lawyer from the prestigious University of Ibadan and the Nigerian Law School. Joseph is an Attorney at Udo-Udoma and Belo-Osagie with interest in Corporate Law, Energy Law, Real Estate Law and Commercial Litigation.