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Counsel’s Corner: Caretaker rented out property illegally

With Dayo Benson

I have  a big estate somewhere in Lagos which an oil servicing company rented until recently when the company relocated . Unknown to me, my caretaker rented out part of the property to some individuals who moved in there with their families.

Part of what is  supposed to be a vast office space was converted to rooms with toilet facilities. I also found out that he had sold some portions of the land in the estate. He wrote a letter of apology which he claimed he did because he needed money to sustain his family.

The letter is quite self-implicating. My problem however is that there is a corporate outfit that is in interested in renting the property. I asked the ‘Illegal’ tenants to leave but they are somehow blackmailing me . They asked me to refund their rents.

I’m thinking of reporting the caretaker to the police for dealing in my property without my consent. But I’m also weary of complications that may arise if i involve the police. For the ‘illegal’ tenants, should i call the police to eject them or do i need a court order?

Agbo, Lagos .

You did not quite explain the kind of authority which you allowed the caretaker to exercise on your behalf.As an agent of the landlord who is the principal , a caretaker can rent out property on behalf of his principal in addition to the responsibility of generally supervising the said property.

Since you said that he rented out the property without your knowledge suggests however that you did not grant him the authority to bring in tenants into the property.That implies that whatever action(s) he had taken amount to nullity and of no effect whatsoever.

That is between the two of you at the level of principal and agent. For present occupants of the property whom you described as ‘illegal’ tenants, yes they are because they are in possession without the owners consent. But I dare say that law recognises illegal tenants and they can only be ejected by a court order and not by the police.

10% Rent commission

Mine is not a question please.I think the issue of collection of exhorbitant rate of 10% for period of 2 years each as fees by the agents and lawyers when looking for accomodation should be looked into by Governor Fashola in Lagos despite the fact that some landlords collects 1 year and 1 and half year rent.

Funmi Ade

Hope Governor Babatunde Fashola SAN and Lagos state Attorney General MR Ade paye as well as the Lagos state house of assembly have taken note.

The piece of advice in this column last week which you reffered to was a repeat  because of several questions readers have been asking on the lagos state tenancy law.As at the time of the original puplication,i relied on the copy of the law obtained from a government source because it was not available  for sale immediately after the government signed the bill to.

I do not know what might have happened between the time it was signed and its official gazette.This clarification is neccessary because you reffered to section 2 but i coted section 4 i must however say that if the copy you have provides for sitting tenant in section 2 and the rent payable is 6 months and 1 year respectively there might have been a typographic error somewhere.

I do not claim to know more than the solicitor and Attorney General of the state. Please try and make your response a bit coherent next time.

Thanks.

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