How to evict a Tenant in Nigeria – in 4 Easy Steps
Evicting a tenant in Nigeria can be quite challenging and overwhelming for many landlords and agents. Sometimes, they may feel tempted to use self-help methods, which involves using force or other illegal means to remove a tenant from the property. These methods can include changing the locks without notice, removing the roof or hiring uniformed personnel to forcibly remove the tenant’s belongings.
However, the law has a specific procedure that must be followed for the tenant eviction process. Landlords cannot simply decide to evict a tenant on their own, just because they own the property. There are legal steps and requirements that must be followed to ensure a fair and lawful eviction process.
How to Evict a Tenant in Nigeria
This article discusses in detail on how to evict a tenant in Nigeria. It is important for both landlords and tenants to understand the eviction process and the circumstances under which eviction is allowed under Nigerian law.
The first thing to know is that a landlord cannot evict a tenant without following proper procedures. The landlord must provide the tenant with a written eviction notice. Even if the tenant ignores the notice and remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord still needs to go through a formal eviction process ordered by the court. Taking actions outside of the legal process to evict a tenant is illegal in Nigeria.
In fact, if a landlord tries to use self-help methodsto forcefully remove the tenant , the tenantcan take legal action against the landlord for wrongful eviction or trespass.
The Process of Evicting a Tenant lawfully
The Nigerian law has made adequate provisions that must be followed when dealing with eviction issues between a landlord and tenant.
Step 1 – Issuance of late rent notice
This step is taken when the reason for eviction is non-payment of rent. As a landlord or authorized representative, you must have made several requests for payment from the tenant before proceeding with eviction.
Under the law, landlords can seek a court order for possession and recovery of unpaid rent. To do so, the landlord must provide evidence of the tenant’s non-payment of rent in court and the “late rent notice” to the tenant which will serve as evidence in court to support the eviction case.
Step 2 – Issuance of a notice to quit
For periodic leases, the length of the notice to quit depends on the agreement between the landlord and the tenant. They can agree on a specific notice period, such as one month for a yearly tenancy, and include it in the tenancy agreement. If the agreement doesn’t specify the notice period, the law comes into effect.
For instance, according to the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011:
For a yearly tenant, at least 6 months’ notice must be given.
For a quarterly or half-yearly tenant, at least 3 months’ notice must be given.
For a monthly tenant, at least one month’s notice must be given.
For a weekly tenant, at least a week’s notice must be given.
However, for a fixed-term lease, this step is not required, as the landlord allows the lease to naturally expire. Only if the landlord terminates the tenancy before the term’s expiration, a seven-day notice of owner’s intention to recover possession is needed.
Step 3 – Issuance of owner’s intention to recover possession
When a tenant refuses to leave the rental property after the expiration of the quit notice, the landlord or their attorney will issue a “seven days’ owner’s intention to recover possession” to the tenant. This step is necessary for both fixed and periodic tenancy.
Regardless of whether the lease is for a fixed term or a periodic term, if the tenant doesn’t vacate the property after the initial quit notice period ends, the landlord will serve the tenant with the “seven days’ owner’s intention to recover possession”. This notice informs the tenant of the landlord’s intention to initiate legal proceedings to regain possession of the property.
Step 4 – Commencement of court action
When the tenant continues to refuse to vacate the rental property even after the “seven days’ owner’s intention to recover possession” notice has been served, the next step is to initiate a court process. This legal proceeding involves presenting witnesses, evidence, and arguments before the court.
During the court process, both the landlord and tenant will have the opportunity to present their respective cases. The court will carefully consider all the evidence and arguments presented before making a judgment.
Once the court reaches a decision, it will issue an order requiring the tenant to vacate the premises. The court may specify a specific date for the tenant to leave, or it may order immediate vacation of the property, depending on the circumstances of the case.
On what grounds can a Landlord terminate the tenancy agreement and evict tenants from his or her property?
A landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement and begin eviction proceedings against a tenant based on the following:
Non-payment of rent: If the tenant fails to pay rent despite receiving a late rent notice, the landlord can start the eviction process.
Illegal activities: If the tenant conducts illegal activities on the property, such as robbery or prostitution, the landlord has the right to evict them.
Violation of lease terms: If the tenant breaches any terms or conditions of the lease agreement, the landlord can evict them for breaking the contract.
Landlord’s personal use: The landlord can evict the tenant if they intend to use the property themselves. For fixed-term tenancies, the eviction notice can only be given after the term expires.
Structural repairs: If the property requires significant repairs that make it unsafe for habitation, the tenant can be evicted for their safety.
Abandonment: If the tenant abandons the property and doesn’t live there anymore, the landlord can proceed with eviction.
Serious property damage: If the tenant causes significant damage to the rental property, the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings.
Unauthorized subletting: If the tenant rents out the property to someone else against the agreement, the landlord can evict them.
Interference with other tenants’ rights: If the tenant’s actions negatively affect other tenants or the landlord, eviction may be warranted.
Constituting a nuisance: If the tenant’s behavior becomes disruptive and a nuisance to the community, eviction may be necessary.
Please note: this article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should it be taken it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only.