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TENANCY LAW: LEGALITY OR OTHERWISE OF SERVICE OF NOTICE TO QUIT

The law governing the relationship of landlord and tenant is a very technical one to the effect that where the landlord and his lawyer fail to follow the statutory provisions for ejecting tenant every of their efforts will amount to nothing. The law has taken care of the procedure to recover the premises with its appurtenance from the tenant when its necessary and how expedient to do it .

Its the the law that a tenant must put on notice of the intention of the landlord to recover possesion of demised premises with its appurtenances but what becomes an issue always is the lenghth of time to be given to such tenant . A tenant who is a yearly tenant and the one who is a monthly tenant do not deserve the same duration of time on the notice to quit. Tenant who is in arrears of rent and tenant whose rent is still running also have different notices and duration of notice to be given.

WHEN THEN IS IT NECESSARY TO GIVE NOTICE TO QUIT?

The law has been clearly settled that Service of a Notice to Quit is not always a condition precedent for recovery of premises.
A notice to quit is only necessary for the determination of a tenancy, where the tenancy has not been determined.

WHEN IS A NOTICE TO QUIT IRRELEVANT?
The courts in litany of cases have decided that Where a tenant is in arears of rent for a specific period provided by statute, a Notice to Quit becomes irrelevant.
Once the tenancy has been determined by effluxion of time, a Notice to quit becomes irrelevant.
Thus, from the day the tenancy expires by effluxion of time, the landlord is NOT under any obligation whatsoever to issue the tenant a notice to quit.
The Landlord is only required to serve the statutory seven days notice of his intention to recover possession on the tenant.
In the case of SPLINTERS (NIG.) LTD V. OASIS FINANCE LTD (2013) 18 N.W.L.R. (PT. 1385) 188 AT 220, the Court of Appeal per IYIZOBA, J.C.A. held thus:
“I have carefully considered the submissions of counsel, in the case of IHEANACHO V. UZOCHUKWU (1997) 2 N.W.L.R. (PT. 487) 257 AT 268-270, H-A, the Supreme Court set out the procedure for recovery of premises as follows:
“A landlord desiring to recover possession of premises let to his tenant shall:
a) Firstly, UNLESS THE TENANCY HAS EXPIRED, determine the tenancy by service on the tenant an appropriate notice to quit.
b) On the determination of the tenancy, he shall serve the tenant with the statutory 7 (seven) days notice of intention to apply to court to recover possession of the premises.
c) Thereafter, 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.”
See also AYINKE STORES LTD V. ADEBOGUN (2008) 10 NWLR (PT. 1096)612. As clearly set out in IHEANACHO V. UZOCHUKWU(Supra), it is only when the tenancy has not expired that there will be need to determine same by notice to quit. It is obvious that if at the time the landlord seeks to recover his premises, the tenancy had already expired, it is reasonable to assume that there will be no need for a quit notice.
All the Landlord would be required to serve on the tenant would be the statutory seven (7 ) days notice of intention to apply to court to recover possession of the premises. … the learned trial judge clearly erred in holding that services of C1P and C1Q are superfluous, more especially, in the case of notice to tenant of owner’s intention to recover possession generally known as 7 days notice.
That particular notice must in all cases be served. It is only the quit notice that may be dispensed with when the tenancy has validly expired by effluxion of time.”
From the foregoing, it is vivid that once the tenancy has expired, a landlord does not need to serve the tenant with a notice to quit.
All that is required is service of the seven (7)days notice on the tenant.
Note that a landlord does not have to wait for months before serving this notice.

NB: Its also advisable to those pocket lawyers who will tell lawyers that they deserve 6 months notice before they will pack out of the premises to understand the position of the law. Even where a tenant is not in arears but the landlord wants him out , its advisable to give him notice that will elapse with his rent. I think its pertinent to humbly advise tenant free of charge not to always allow your landlord to go to court rather at the early stage of notices consult a lawyer to find out if you have a remedy in law because if the landlord spend money and go to court it may be painful to settle the matter with out you doing the needful. In similar vein let those landlords that think they can mess up the rights of tenant remember self help is no longer applicable. Get a lawyer to handle your tenacy matters to avoid spending more than the arrears of rent in compensation.

I remain your regular man
Barr Mike Omeire-onyema
(THE ORACLE OF LAW)
Onye Chineke Ka Emere Ihe Oma
Beneficiary Of Yahweh’s Benevolency

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Written by Eustace Okere

Natural, Objective and focused

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