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A lot of Nigerians have misconceptions about
some of the principles and laws regarding tenancy law. Having received quite a
number of emails over some of these areas of tenancy law, this topic will in no
small way help shed light on questions regarding tenancy laws and practice which
a number of readers might have.
 Here are
five misconceptions about Tenancy Law in Nigeria;

1.    
Notice to Quit is
to be served after rent has expired
The first
misconception many tenants have, is that a Notice to Quit should be served
after the expiration of the tenancy, thus allowing them appropriate notice to
vacate the premises.  Most who may have received
a Notice to Quit during the term of the tenancy are thus surprised and often
wonder if this is the right practice.  
The Court in Akpokiniovo
v. Air Liquide Nigeria Plc. (2012) LPELR-9582(CA)
held that 
“In order to be
effective a notice to quit should terminate the tenancy at the end of the
current term of the tenancy. Thus any notice given and due to end at the middle
of the term of the tenancy will be invalid.”
The above decision
in essence means that a Notice to Quit can be served at any time, the only
condition stipulated by the law is that the length of notice must terminate at
the expiry of the tenancy and not a even day before.  Therefore, a Notice to Quit served within the
duration of tenancy but stated to expire after the date the tenancy is proper
and in line with the provisions of the law.  
2.    
Tenant is not
supposed to pay rent during the period within Notice
Another
misconception is that a tenant is not meant to pay rent within the period of Notice
given to handover possession of the property. This is not true but is generally
believed to be true by many. A property owner is entitled to collect rent when
due for the occupation of his premises and this right is also recognized by the
courts.  
3.    
Landlord can
recover possession by self help
Many Landlords or
property owners often result to self-help in evicting tenants which is a wrong
procedure as a Landlord may be liable to the tenant for payment of damages. Even
where a tenancy has come to an end, the landlord is not entitled to go out into
the premises and physically throw out the tenant but must give the statutory
notice required to the person in possession. Neither can such landlord try to
frustrate the tenant out the premises by actions such a removing the roof,
disconnecting water and power supply e.t.c.
4.    
It is the Sheriff’s
Department of the High Court that decides tenancy issues.
The Sheriff’s
department is not a court of law and therefore cannot adjudicate over legal
matters. They are however empowered to carry out and institute court orders.
5.    
A Notice to Quit
can be back dated
Many tenants have
often complained of being served a backdated Notice to Quit by their landlords
or agents. It should be noted that a Notice to Quit cannot be backdated and it
begins to count on the date the tenant was served.
All tenants and landlords must note to
always get professional advice from a lawyer as it concerns their tenancy
agreements.
Adedunmade
Onibokun, Esq.  
Principal Partner
Adedunmade Onibokun & Co.
Dunmade’s legal practice focuses on
corporate and commercial law, regulatory compliance, due diligence, corporate
advice and commercial transactions.