Once on a time, just before the advent of modern day laws regulating Landlord and Tenant relations, Tenants ended up at the mercy of their Landlords who wielded and exercised extreme powers in excess of them. Then, the Landlord had the electricity to unilaterally enhance lease and the Tenant was not in a position to concern the increment however arbitrary, unconscionable and unjustified the increment was. The Landlord also experienced the energy to evict the tenant with out advancing any cause for performing so. He was beneath no obligation to give to the Tenant recognize of his intention to terminate the tenancy or of his intention to evict him. If the Landlord wished to evict a Tenant from his house, he was entitled to use power or to resort to self-assist to do so. In fact, the energy of the Landlord in these days above the Tenant knew no bounds.
And so it was that the Tenant stood weak, powerless and susceptible in the face of the massive powers of his Landlord. His ability to cut price effectively with his Landlord was eclipsed and indeed extinguished by the excessive, arbitrary and autocratic powers of the Landlord above him.
This point out of affairs gave increase to the imbalance and inequality that have occur to characterize the partnership amongst Landlord and Tenant these days. At that time, the partnership of Landlord and Tenant was a contractual one involving two unequal parties, with the Landlord as the potent get together and the Tenant, the weaker get together. The conditions and problems of a tenancy or lease settlement were provided to the Tenant on a take-it-or-go away-it basis. The Tenant experienced no say as to his rights, passions, obligations and obligations underneath the settlement. Belvona was as a result the need to right the injustices, abuse, oppression and exploitation that Tenants experienced at the fingers of their landlords that necessitated the intervention of govt laws in contracts involving landlords and their tenants. These restrictions consider the type of legislative enactments popularly referred to as Tenancy Legal guidelines, Landlord and Tenant Laws or Hire Control and Recovery of Premises Regulations. In Nigeria, several rules have been enacted to defend tenants from the excesses of Landlords.
The Federal Government of Nigeria as effectively as the different states has manufactured a number of regulations on the matter. Legislation on Landlord and Tenant relations presently in Nigeria consist of:
1. The Recovery of Premises Act, 1990 which is the regulation regulating Landlord and Tenant relations in Abuja
2. The Lease Manage and Restoration of Premises laws of different states in Nigeria.
three. The Tenancy Law of Lagos Point out, 2011.
Observe that these laws are comparable in provision and result, with only minimal variances. The objectives of these rules are twofold:
(one) To pay for tenants the best achievable protection in opposition to exploitation and oppression by landlords by preventing arbitrary increment of hire and the unlawful eviction of tenants.
(2) To balance, unify and harmonize the passions and rights of the landlord with individuals of the tenant and thereby stop inequitable and unfair bargains in which a single party gains at the expense of the other celebration.
Regrettably however, these laws have failed to impact or accomplish the considerably necessary equilibrium and fairness in the legal rights, passions and obligations of Landlords and Tenants. Rather than correcting or curing the inequity, imbalance and inequality in the equilibrium of bargaining powers and positions of the Landlord viz-a-viz the tenant, what these regulations have accomplished is a near complete reversal of the equilibrium of bargaining electrical power in favour of the Tenant. These laws have turned the bargaining desk in opposition to the Landlord and tilted the stability of bargaining power in favour of the Tenant.
Opposite to well-known view that the tenant is the weaker social gathering in Landlord-Tenant romantic relationship, the Landlord who was beforehand the more robust and dominating celebration in the Landlord-Tenant connection is now the weak social gathering. This is since the law has empowered the Tenant to deal efficiently and sometimes ruthlessly, at the price of his landlord. In fact, the legislation has striped the landlord of his energy to deal efficiently with the tenant. The want of the legislature to find the money for Tenants safety from the excesses of Landlords is responsible for this sorry condition of affairs. The determination of the legislature to secure and ensure the tenure of tenants by imposing limitations on the electricity of the Landlord to get well possession of his premises from Tenants is at the root of the Landlord’s current woes and misfortune.
This is why it is often explained that it is less complicated for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for it is for a Landlord in Nigeria to get better possession of his premises from his tenant. The problems knowledgeable by landlords in recovering possession from tenants is as a outcome of statutory protections entrenched in Nigerian legislation by which tenants are sought to be guarded by guaranteeing and securing their tenure. To secure and guarantee a Tenants’ tenure and to stop illegal or forceful evictions, Nigerian legislation gives that in which a landlord desires to repossess his premises from a tenant, he must utilize to courtroom for an get to recuperate possession, unless the tenant voluntarily relinquishes possession of the premises. As we shall quickly see, by depriving the landlord of his power to repossess his premises and investing exact same in the courts, the tenant is thus promoted and elevated to a situation in which he stands in excess of and earlier mentioned his landlord. Apart from the rule demanding landlords to sue in court docket to recuperate possession of their premises, there are several other impediments imposed by law on the appropriate of a landlord to get better possession of his premises. The cumbersome and time throwing away requirement of serving the tenant notices of landlord’s termination of the tenancy on a specified date as well as of landlord’s intention to use to court docket to recover possession is main between such impediments.
Even far more offensive and harmful of the right of the landlord to repossession of his premises in Nigeria is the idea of statutory tenancy. What this notion signifies is that a tenant whose expression has expired (and who should to have moved out of the premises) enjoys the full protection and backing of the law to continue being on the premises and are not able to be ejected from the premises except if a court orders him to vacate the premises. This kind of a defaulting tenant is entitled to provider of statutory notices like any other type of tenant. The Supreme Courtroom in the scenario of African Petroleum Ltd. V. Owodunni went as much as holding that a statutory tenant(i.e. is one whose term has expired but who has refused to go out) can sue the landlord for trespass to land. In accordance to the Apex court docket, this kind of a tenant stands in the same place as a tenant whose tenancy even now subsists. One particular wonders if the law encourages tenants to be negative tenants who violate or dishonour their covenants with landlords.
That the landlord now stands in a precarious position exactly where he pitfalls losing his investment in his house is therefore instead evident. To some men and women, the assertion that the landlord is the weaker get together and that he suffers severe hardship at the instance of his tenants seems preposterous and untrue. However, we only require to remind ourselves of the truth that possession (albeit, distinctive possession) is the really foundation on which landlord and tenant interactions are established to recognize the real truth and veracity of that assertion. It is a infamous simple fact that the impediments and limits imposed by regulation on landlords’ proper to repossess his premises unnecessarily and unjustly delays, frustrates, suspends and postpones the appropriate of the landlord to possession of his premises.The emasculation of the landlord’s energy to repossess his premises has still left him at the mercy of the tyranny and fraud of his tenants. It is typical expertise that tenants now use the regulation as an instrument to perpetuate fraud on their landlords. Emboldened with expertise of the safety accorded and afforded them by legislation, tenants now recklessly (and occasionally intentionally) violate and dishonour their covenants with their landlord. It is typical to see tenants who are in arrears of rent for a number of many years refuse to shift out of the premises. This is simply because they know that they can use the courts to delay and frustrate the landlord’s right to possession.
The inefficiency of the judicial technique and the long delays seasoned in our courts is a wonderful tool of war and resistance in the arms of numerous a tenant. It will take an common interval of 24 months in court for landlord to recuperate possession of his premises. If the tenant is geared up with the electricity to hold off and frustrate the appropriate of the landlord to repossess his premises via the legal and court docket program and by so undertaking to elongate his time period, then he is certainly the master of the bargaining desk. As they say, he who has gold helps make the rules. In the context of our dialogue, he who is in possession and decides when and how to relinquish possession can make the rules. That particular person is the tenant.
This favoritism and one particular-sided passion of the law in the direction of tenants at the detriment/expense of their landlords is a trigger of worry in the actual estate and development industries in Nigeria. The ugly phenomenon of tenants’ refusal to give up possession following the expiry of their conditions has induced and proceeds to trigger untold hardship on landlords and true estate buyers.
According to Oni, “… the rate of default in hire payments amongst tenants in Lagos metropolis is higher. In a study of 120 estate surveyors,12 (symbolizing ten%) mentioned that tenants usually slide into arrears for up to 6 months,86 (about 72%) stated that default is amongst seven and twelve months and twenty two ( about 18 %) had been of the impression that rents are owed for far more than twelve months. In other words, the examine unveiled that 90% of the respondents experienced knowledgeable default in lease for a lot more than 7 months… “
As a result, landlords and buyers drop billions to tenants who default in payment of hire. The pain of shedding rental income due to default by tenants to shell out hire and to honour other obligations beneath the tenancy agreement is aggravated by the difficulty of repossessing the premises from negative tenants. The law forbids vacation resort to extra-judicial implies to repossess premises. It prohibits the use of pressure or any other signifies of self-help to evict tenants. A landlord who intends to repossess his premises from his tenant need to seek his cure from the court and the judicial system the place he faces uncertainty as to the end result or period of the approach. Even when judgment is at some point entered in his favour, the landlord would have expended an inordinate amount of time before judgment is given and could invested more time in executing the judgment.
The result of this point out of affairs is that it discourages expenditure in the true estate and construction sectors of the Nigerian economic climate. The absence of investor confidence in these sectors signifies that less houses will be built and this is not good for the housing sector in Nigeria. The authorized and regulatory bottlenecks and challenges avoiding simple and quick of recovering of premises from tenants is clearly a critical expenditure chance.
Nigeria is a nation with a population of one hundred seventy million men and women most of whom are in dire require of first rate, reasonably priced housing. According to the Globe Bank Report, Nigeria at present has a housing deficit of seventeen million properties. A whooping sum of N59.five trillion is essential to bridge this gap in housing needs. With the existing condition of our rules and the judicial technique with its bias for unscrupulous, irresponsible tenants, there is no way that this housing deficit can be bridged.
To say that Nigerian legislation on landlord and tenant relations has failed to balance or harmonize the passions and rights of the landlord with those of the tenant is to point out the obvious. For this cause, these rules have unsuccessful to tackle the really difficulty for which they were enacted. Relatively, these rules have created new difficulties.
We concur with the argument of a single American writer who says that “… as long as govt management is the only substitute for industry handle, the benefits will be arbitrary and unfair. By offering the parties to the landlord-tenant settlement a lot more voice and tenants an equivalent voice, the authorities would have lifted itself off the backs of the individuals and but be a better enforcer of tenants’ rights… “
We agree with submission of this author that the resolution to the difficulty of inequality of bargaining energy between landlord and tenant lies neither in much more government regulation nor in a totally free market method exactly where there is no regulation at all. Instead, “the answer is to allow the events, not the federal government, set the conditions of the rental arrangement although the government sets the outside the house restrictions.”
We for that reason need to effect a full overhaul of the current authorized and regulatory routine in Nigeria and replace it with a program that balances the pursuits and rights of the landlord with individuals of the tenant.