Understanding tenant rights and responsibilities in Lagos Property Market

The global rental market is arguably larger than the owner-occupier market. In countries like the United States, nearly 44 million housing units are currently being rented, comprising 34% of the total U.S. households. In the United Kingdom, roughly 35% of households rent. In Japan, 38.7% of the population rents their homes. In Denmark, 37.3% of the population rents their homes. Interestingly, those are the countries that are considered to have the highest home ownership rate.

In a 2019 study by NOI Polls, more than 51% of Nigerians who were surveyed said they currently live in rented accommodation. Although this data may seem outdated, it indicates that a significant portion of the Nigerian population live in rented houses. This is particularly true for urban areas like Lagos and Abuja, where the huge imbalance in property income and household income is making it difficult for the larger population to own homes.

Rental population in selected countries
Rental population in selected countries

Across the globe, specific laws provide frameworks that guide the relationship between tenants and landlords. Whether you are a renter or a property owner, understanding the rights and responsibilities of a tenant is crucial, especially in a market like Lagos. Tenants have certain rights and responsibilities as per the tenancy laws and regulations in Lagos. Knowing your rights as a tenant can help ensure that you are treated fairly and receive the full benefits of a rental agreement. Some of the key rights of tenants in Lagos include the right to quiet and peaceable enjoyment, the right to privacy, and the right to possession. On the other hand, tenants also have responsibilities such as payment of rent, property maintenance, and respect for the property. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the specific responsibilities and obligations of tenants in Lagos as contained in the Lagos Tenancy Law of 2011. 

The tenancy law in Lagos provides several protections and rights for tenants. These rights are designed to ensure that tenants are treated fairly and have a safe and secure living environment. It is important to be familiar with these laws and ensure that they are followed to avoid conflicts. Tenants who live in rented apartments in Lagos have several rights and privileges, as outlined in the Lagos Tenancy Law 2011 and other relevant laws. Section 6 of the 2011 Lagos Tenancy Law provides some context for the rights of a tenant with respect to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of a premise. 

  1. Privacy;  
  1. Freedom from unreasonable disturbance;  
  1. Exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlord’s restricted right of inspection; and  
  1. The use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes.

Every tenant is entitled to reasonable privacy within the rented property. This means that landlords are legally obligated to seek permission or give prior notice before entering the premises, except in cases of emergencies. Once a tenant assumes occupancy, such tenant has the right to exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlord’s restricted right of inspection. This means that the tenant can enjoy the space exclusively while in possession without unnecessary intrusion from the landlord. Tenants also have the right to use common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes. According to the law, every tenant in Lagos has the right to a written tenancy agreement. The agreement should clearly outline the names of the landlord and tenant, a detailed property description, the tenancy duration, the rent amount, and provisions for rent review.

In addition to this, tenants are entitled to a receipt of payment for rent paid, which should include the amount paid, the location of the property, and the duration of the tenancy. Tenants have the right to be free from unreasonable disturbance, including noise and other nuisances within the property, and in a case of a breach of these rights, tenants have the right to seek legal help if they feel that their rights have been violated or if they are facing unlawful eviction.

Understanding tenant rights and responsibilities in Lagos Property Market

The law does not leave us clueless as to the responsibilities of tenants. One of the most important obligations of tenant is to pay rents, and to keep the property in a habitable condition. The following paragraphs, provides specific details on what tenants in Lagos are expected to do upon occupation of a rental property. 

Responsibilities of Tenants  

According to the provisions of Section 7 of the 2011 Lagos Tenancy Law, tenants are obligated to do the following:

  1. Pay the rents at the times and in the manner stated;  
  1. Pay all existing and future rates and charges not payable by the landlord by law; 
  1. Keep the premises in good and tenantable repair, reasonable wear and tear excepted;  
  1. Permit the landlord and his agents during the tenancy, at all reasonable hours in the daytime after previous written notice, to view the condition of the premises and to effect, repairs in necessary parts of the building; 
  1. Not make any alterations or additions to the premises without the written consent of the landlord;  
  1. Not assign or sublet any part of the premises without the written consent of the landlord; and  
  1. Notify the landlord where structural or substantial damage has occurred to any part of the premises as soon as practicable 

As a tenant, you are required to pay rent as agreed upon in the tenancy agreement. As stated in the law, rent payments should be made promptly, and any delays may be subject to penalties as specified in the agreement. In the case of a termination of tenancy, the tenants are expected to provide notice as specified in the tenancy agreement before terminating the lease. The notice period may vary depending on the terms agreed upon between the landlord and tenant.  

Generally, tenants are typically responsible for minor repairs and maintenance, such as fixing minor damages caused by their actions. Major structural repairs are usually the responsibility of the landlord, unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement. In addition, tenants are expected to comply with any rules and regulations the landlord or property management sets forth. Of course, this is usually documented and agreed upon before entry. Failure to comply with reasonable rules may be grounds for eviction.  

It is expected that tenants use the property for the purpose specified in the tenancy agreement (e.g., residential use).

Any changes in the use of the property may require the landlord’s approval. Tenants are usually required to promptly report any damages or issues with the property to the landlord or property manager. It is unlawful to change the use of a property without the necessary approval from the landlord or management company. Tenants are expected to take reasonable precautions to ensure the security and safety of the property. Any security-related concerns or incidents should be reported to the landlord. Where the landlord or property manager provides routine services, tenants may be required to contribute to service charges or maintenance fees for common areas, as specified in the tenancy agreement. 

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