Tenant Rights: Things Bad Landlords Don’t Want You to Know

Similar to every other citizen,  there are tenant rights Landlords also have their rights. This article will enlighten you on some of the rights of a tenant and how to exert them. Most bad Landlords won’t want you to know this for their selfish gains. And when you don’t know your tenant’s rights, it is really difficult to fight for it. 

With this article, you will be able to understand and know your rights as well as prevent any infringement on them. But before we start listing your rights as a tenant, let’s understand what a tenancy agreement is and who a tenant is.

Who is a Tenant?

A tenant is a person either male or female who occupied a property owned by another person in exchange for a certain amount of money.

A tenant is expected to read and understand a tenancy agreement provided by the landlord before signing such. It is the signed tenancy agreement that seals such transactions and serves as evidence of an agreement between the landlord and the tenants.

Top 5 Tenants Rights You Should Know

According to the tenancy law in Nigeria, there are many tenant rights enjoyed by a tenant. On no account should any landlord infringe on it, irrespective of the motives for doing such. Below are some of the tenants right enjoyed in Nigeria.

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Right to Receipt After Payment

The receipt serves as a legal tender that shows a transaction occurs between the tenant and landlord. Hence, it’s one of the important rights of a tenant.

It is a crime on the part of a landlord to refuse to give a tenant receipt after payment. Even in a situation whereby only a partial payment was made, a receipt still needs to be given. 

Furthermore, a receipt can be used in the law court to calculate a valid quit notice. It can protect you from forceful ejection from a property you have already paid for even without a valid agreement. It is an acknowledgment that the landlord received some amount of money from you.

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So, this is to tell you that it is a must to collect the receipt from your landlord irrespective of your relationship. It is your sole evidence that you paid rent. 

While it is good to collect a receipt but ensure it is valid. Do you know what makes a receipt valid and useful? In no order of priority, below are what should be stated to make your evidence of payment valid.

The Tenant name

Name of the agent or Landlord

Amount of money paid to the Landlord as rent

The specific type of property for which the tenant paid for (for example, single room, self-contained, a flat, etc.)

Date of payment

Duration of time covered by such rent paid by the tenant

Signature of both the tenant and the landlord.

Right to a Fair Written Agreement

The right to a fair written agreement is also one of the tenant rights in Nigeria. It is easy for the landlord to use verbal agreement after payment has been made by a potential tenant. As a tenant who knows such rights, you should not agree to such.

This is not to sound vicious but to remove all elements of doubt or ambiguity around the terms of your rent. You do not want to move into a house which the rules and regulations turn to be demeaning. 

Although the oral agreement is recognized by the tenancy law in Nigeria, it is usually better for it to be written. Even if you are renting the property for less than 6 months, ensure you have it in a written form to remove any ambiguity. It is one of your tenant’s rights to demand such from your landlord.

In addition, signing a written agreement is perfect but ensure you are not setting your trap. Ensure you understand all clauses in the agreement form before signing. Some landlords are despicable, they can duplicate the written agreement of another tenant for you.

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They are capable of making you sign unfavorable agreements. This is the reason why we advised that you shouldn’t sign any written agreement without hiring a property lawyer. 

It is one of your rights as a tenant to be deliberate and careful of whatever agreement you will be signing.

Here are some of what your written agreement should contain

The Tenant name

Name of the agent or Landlord

Amount of money paid to the Landlord as rent

The specific type of property for which the tenant paid for as well as the location and other details.

Date of payment

Duration of time covered by such rent paid by the tenant

Signature of both the tenant and the landlord.

Probability of increase of rent and to what extent.

Agreed duration of quit notice in case of failure to comply with rules and regulations

Who will bear the cost of maintenance, repair, and expenses (e.g electricity, water bills, etc) of things in the property?

A stamp from a post office to make it official and serves as a legal tender in a law court.

Right to Occupy Property in Peace

It is one of your rights as a tenant to be able to live peacefully in the property you rented. This is without invasion of privacy from anyone including the landlord. It is part of your tenant’s rights to sue anyone who trespasses or invades your privacy including the landlord.

Even though the landlord owns the house or property, it has been delegated to you as a result of the rents. Though it doesn’t mean you own the house, it means your privacy should be respected by the owner of the privacy.

Such a landlord needs to inform you before coming for inspection or need your approval before visiting. A landlord does not have the right to enter the property forcefully or change the lock on the door without the tenant’s approval. If a landlord trespass such tenant rights, you have the right to sue such landlord.

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Right to a Valid Quit Notice

The right to valid quit notice is also part of the tenant’s rights. A landlord does not have the right to eject a tenant forcefully without a valid quit notice. You have a right as a tenant to be informed to pack out in a polite and non-violent manner.

A valid quit notice needs to be legal and in written form before a tenant can be ejected from a property. According to the tenancy law in Nigeria, renting a property for a year or more is required at 6 months’ notice before eviction.

This applies to all tenants except otherwise agreed by the landlord and the tenant. Similarly, for a monthly tenancy, a month quit notice is given while for a week tenancy, a week quit notice is given.

Note: Landlord sometimes states the number of months or weeks they will give for quit notice in their written agreement. Once you have already signed such, the law recognizes such and you will be given that agreed time of quit notice.

Right to Notice to Recover Premises

The tenant rights aim to protect tenants from any form of humiliation and embarrassment. That’s why another 7 days which is known as Notice to Recover Premises is given to a tenant who has been served a quit notice to pack out.

These 7 days are usually counted once the first 6 months quit notice expired. It is just to give you time to pack out of the property.

More on Tenant Rights

Tenant rights help to protect tenants from the abusive power of the landlords. It is only when there is adequate knowledge of your rights as a tenant, that is when you can act on them. Also, we advised you to hire the service of a property lawyer before signing your witness agreement. Do not sign if you do not understand it to avoid any infringement on your tenant rights.

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