A Lagos based non governmental organisation (NGO), Landlords and Tenants Rights Initiative, has warned that tougher times await tenants in Lagos State if the proposed Lagos Tenancy Bill currently with the State House of Assembly is eventually passed into law.
It would be recalled that the Tenancy Bill 2009 was presented to the House of Assembly in May 2009 by Governor Babatunde Fashola, to stop landlords from collecting advance payment for house rent. When the bill is passed into law, it will become a criminal offence for landlords or their agents to continue the practice of paying rents in advance in multiple years.
President of the NGO, Mr. Valentino Buoro, said that apart from deregulation of rent, the bill is not in favour of tenants because it will simplify the process of evicting tenants from their accommodation for arrears of rent ranging from three to six months default.
The organisation further noted in a statement, that the proposed deregulation of rents in Lagos revealed the total absence of rent control in all its provisions, adding that the title of the bill when passed will be known simply as Tenancy Law, instead of the expected Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises Law.
“Although the bill was specific on the maximum of three months advance rent which any sitting tenant shall pay at any one time, it was silent on the maximum rent or the advance rent incoming tenants shall pay to landlords and their agents. The unmistakable implication of this is that landlords may charge new tenants any amount of rent that the landlord desires and which is agreeable to the tenant and pay any number of years of advance rents too.
“The Landlords and Tenants Rights Initiative however regretted that the bill which gave freedom to landlords to now charge their own rents went ahead in its section 12(2) and (3) to provide that any tenant who defaults in rents for specific periods of three months and six months shall have their tenancy terminated.
The implication of this provision is that the landlord IS not required to give the tenant a quit notice but simply approach the court after seven days notice, to enable him exercise his right of recovery of his property,” the statement added.
The NGO therefore urged Lagosians to speak out against the social consequences of the proposed bill, noting that the Lagos State House of Assembly has had a public hearing on the bill and is still collating opinions on the matter.
The organisation noted that while the quest to seek for avenues to compensate landlords for their economic investments should be supported, such steps should not be taken without due consideration for its attendant political and economic consequences.