Nigeria: Stakeholders Seek Protection for Tenants in Lagos

A new bill to protect both tenants and landlords in Lagos State is being processed by the state House of Assembly. Issues surrounding the bill were discussed at a one-day stakeholders meeting held yesterday at the Lateef Jakande auditorium in the Assembly premises.

The bill was titled: "A Bill for a law to regulate the relationship of the parties under Tenancy Agreements and specify the procedure for the recovery of premises in Lagos State and for connected purposes."The bill addresses issues such as jurisdiction of the courts, tenancy agreement, advance rent, rent payment receipt, rights of a tenant, obligations of the landlord and obligations of a commercial tenant regarding rent payment.

Others include obligation regarding business premises, service charge, facility and security deposits, payment of professional fees, provision for re-entry, length of notice, payment of arrears rent amongst others.

A stakeholder, Mr. Omoniyi Onabule, observed that one of the provisions in the bill could make some defaulting tenants delay matter, and that facility management business involved payment of rents and payment of service charges. He added that there might be need to restrain the tenant before he clears his debt, and that the rate of the tax needed to be looked at.

Also speaking, Mrs. Busola Okunuga from the Lagos State Judiciary called for clarification on section 4 subsection 4, which concerns specification on application to the court, and called for more clarifications on the mode of prosecution of the offenders.

"In Section 11 (1c), no penalty is indicated for non-compliance by the Landlord. Section 19 contradicts section 14 of the law, which deals with the tenant who is in arrears of rent. How many days notice would be given the occupants to leave in Section 25e, where the building is specified unsafe for occupation," she said.

In his submission, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Housing, Dipe Adebayo, stated that the bill was well balanced on the rights of the landlords and tenants.

The National President of Property Owners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Jide Odelola, said tenants give oral notices, when they are leaving the premises at a particular time. He stressed that it is a common belief among tenants that they should not pay after they have been given quit notice and that they believe that they should be given six months notice after the expiry of the quit notice.

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