Mr Denis Ndekam who lives in Amukoko, a Lagos sprawling slum, was recently served a one- month notice to quit a two-room apartment he had lived in for the past 23 years. He was a yearly tenant. Trouble started when he asked his landlady to repair the roof of the building which leaks badly whenever it rains. Apparently not comfortable with the demand, the landlady through her agents, served Ndekam a notice to quit. But the aggrieved Mr Ndekam approached his lawyers who filed a suit at the Magistrate court to stop the eviction. Against this background, Vanguard Homes & Property sought the opinion of Mr Eze Onyekpere, a development lawyer and Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CENSOJ) on what should be the procedure for tenancy termination. His response: “The procedure for the recovery of premises is commenced with a notice by the landlord or his duly authorised agent to the tenant to quit possession of premises. The notice to quit puts an end to the term created by a tenancy. Where there is no express provision in a tenancy agreement for the length of notice, a weekly tenancy is terminated by a week’s notice while a monthly tenancy is terminated by a month’s notice. A quarterly notice is given to terminate a quarterly tenancy while a yearly tenancy is terminated by six months notice. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the nature of a tenancy shall be determined by reference to the time when rent is paid or demanded.
Continuing, Mr Onyekpere said “It is imperative to note as held in Oyekoya v G.B Olivant (Nig) Ltd [(1969) 1 All NLR 80], that a month for the purpose of terminating a periodic tenancy means one full month. It is not thirty days taken from two different months. The length of a half year’s notice must be 182 days, the days being reckoned by including the one extreme and excluding the other. What is crucial is the date the notice is served on the tenant and not the date it is prepared”.
According to the Abuja -based rights activist, “In the event the tenant holds over after the expiration of the notice to quit, the landlord should serve the notice of owner’s intention to proceed to apply for the recovery of possession of premises and it is seven clear days notice. If the tenant holds over after the seven days notice, the landlord can approach the courts in a suit for the recovery of premises”.
He declared that “ Normally, the court after hearing the parties and being satisfied that appropriate notices have been served, in granting possession to the landlord, allows the tenant reasonable and sufficient time to secure alternative accommodation. The court can also make orders relating to arrears of rent and mesne profits”.