Tenancy: How to Evict a Tenant in Nigeria Legally

Tenancy is a legal affair and must be followed legally by both the landlord and tenant. This post is a rare resource to guide property owners herein refered to as landlords on how to legally evict a tenant and reposes their property within the right frame of Nigeria law.

It should be noted that the only due process a landlord can recover his/her houses or promises that is being occupied by a tenant is through a court process.

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This means that a landlord cannot just wake up and throw a tenant out despite how long the tenant has lived in the property without paying the landlord his rents.  Any other means engaged by the landlord in evicting the client other than the court order would be held to be illegal.To this effect, the use of police men, street touts (agbero) or physical fist to throw a tenant out or deroofing his apartment is illegal and has been highly condemned by the court and may incure prosecution or even a jail term; he who comes to equity must come with a clean hand.

Time Frame for Quite Notices:

The timeframe for valid eviction notices can be determined by the tenancy agreement, but if the agreement fails to specify said timeframe, the timeframe will be determined by the operation of law based on the period of the tenancy and the mode of payment of rent as follows:

  1. If the tenancy is on a weekly basis, you are entitled to 7 days’ Notice to Quit
  2. Tenancy at will – 7 days’ notice to quit (After tenancy expiration)
  3. Monthly tenancy – 1-month notice to quit
  4. Quarterly tenancy – 3 months’ notice to quit
  5. Half-yearly tenancy – 3 months’ notice to quit
  6. Yearly tenancy – 6 months’ notice to quit.

In the case of Iheanacho v Uzochukwu SC.203/1990, the Supreme Court set out the valid procedures a landlord should take for recovery of his premises from the occupier, it is as follows follows:

  1. a) Firstly, unless the tenancy has expired, the landlord is to determine the tenancy by service on the tenant and give appropriate notice to quit. This should be done through the landlord’s lawyer or legal representative.
  2. b) On the determination of the tenancy, he shall serve the tenant with the statutory 7 days notice of intention to apply to court to recover possession of the premises.
  3. c) After the expiration of the 7 days notice, he shall file his action in court and may only proceed to recover possession of the premises according to law in terms of the judgment of the court in the action.

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By this decision of the Supreme Court in the above case, a landlord attempting to evict his tenant from the property must first issue the tenant with a valid quit notice. A Notice to Quit is a formal legal document a landlord sends a tenant asking the tenant to vacate the property on or before a particular date.

After the quit notice issued to the tenant expires and the tenant is still in possession of the property, the landlord is statutorily mandated to issue the tenant with the next notice which is called 7 days notice of the owner’s intention to repossess property; it is only when this second notice is flaunted by the tenant that the landlord should approach the court to obtain eviction order from the court.

Eviction order will be issued by the court against the tenant who has refused to vacate the landlord’s premises after the determination of the tenancy case.

This is the only way known and approved by law for a landlord to recover his premises from a defaulting tenant.

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