The term “tenancy agreement” simply refers to a relationship between a landlord who is usually the person that has the right to grant the use of the premises and his tenant who is usually the person that seeks to be in possession or that is already in possession of a premises let to him or her. According to Section 47 of the Lagos State Tenancy Law, it means “agreements whether written or oral, express or implied between a landlord and a tenant regarding possession of premise” This relationship is usually for a fixed period of time usually between the period of One to Three years with an option to renew.
This is as opposed to a lease which is a tenancy agreement that exceeds Three years. A tenancy relationship, like other contracts, becomes legally binding when it has been duly signed by both parties and same exchanged. Furthermore, the guiding laws for tenancy relationship in Lagos State are the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 and the Recovery of premises Law.
It is pertinent to note that a tenancy relationship may be created orally or in writing. Where it is oral, there would be no need for a tenancy agreement as parties are bound by their words. However, it is advisable that the terms of the tenancy relationship should be in writing and signed by both parties. This makes dispute resolution faster and easier. To this end, this discourse seeks to enlighten the members of the society on what a tenancy agreement is and the issues that lead to a notice to quit.
PARTS OF A TENANCY AGREEMENT
The essential parts of a tenancy agreement are:
- The Names of the Parties: This is an integral part of a tenancy agreement as the parties must be fully described and their capacity in which they enter into the agreement stated. Parties to a tenancy agreement must have the capacity to enter into same. The parties may be natural or juristic, that means they must be capable of suing or being sued.2where a tenancy agreement does not state the names of the parties, it is invalid and void as it does not bind anyone.
- The Description of the Property: the property subject of a tenancy agreement must be described. The tenancy agreement must state whether the premise is a flat, a shop, or even a warehouse. It should also state whether the premises has other fixtures that come with it or not and the location of the premises.
Furthermore, it should state the purpose for which the premise is being let out, that is for either residential or commercial purposes. In Yakubu v. Kaduna Furniture & Carpet Co Ltd(1985) HCNLR 222, a parcel clause described the demised property as follows: “ALL THAT the said premises known as 23 Ibrahim Biu Crescent, Kaduna with boys quarters, garden grounds and driveways ancillary thereto”.There were three bungalows and boys quarters on the premises. One of the three bungalows was in a dilapidated state. The landlord, without the consent of the tenant, sent workmen to renovate the dilapidated bungalow with intent of letting it out to a third party for use as a guesthouse. In an action on the tenancy, the issue centered on the effect of the parcel clause. While the landlord argued that the dilapidated bungalow was excluded, the tenant argued otherwise.
Rejecting the landlords contention, Ibiyeye J said: The words “ALL THAT the said premises…..” does not admit of any inference. It is plain language which for all intent and purposes conveys ordinary meaning. In effect “ALL” as used in the said clause embraces everything that forms part of the premises and in particular, the building which is now styled the third bungalow.
- The duration of the agreement: A tenancy agreement must state unequivocally the commencement date and the expiry date. This would ensure that there is certainty as to the duration a tenant is expected to use and occupy the premises. In some situations, the commencement of some tenancy agreement may be dependent on some activity being carried out.For example, it may be agreed that a tenancy agreement will commence when a property has been renovated or after repairs have been effected in a premises. In cases as this, the courts are willing to lean over backwards to make reasonable inferences from the language used on what day the term is to commence. For example, in Faulker V. Llewellin (1863) 9 LT 251, it was held that the tenancy of a building to commence when the house was complete, finished and fit for habitation was valid. In an action for specific performance, the court appointed an expert who confirmed that the house was fit for habitation.
Also, in United Bank for Africa v. Tejumola & Sons Ltd (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 79) 662, a tenancy to commence on the prospective landlord putting the premises in a state that would satisfy a bank for its business was held to be invalid. In Lace v. Chantler (1944) KB 364, the court held that a tenancy created for the duration of the war did not create a good leasehold interest as the term created was uncertain.
It is important to state that where an agreement is silent on the commencement date, but the tenant subsequently takes possession, the courts would take the date he takes possession as the commencement date. See Jopling v. Jopling (1908) 8 Commonwealth LR 33, in this case, there was no commencement date in a tenancy agreement for a period of five years between mother and son.
The son took possession on August 12, 1907. In an action on the agreement, there was a contention that the lease was invalid for want of commencement date. The High Court held that if possession had been taken pursuant to the agreement on a particular day, the proper inference was that the agreement commenced on that date.
- The amount of rent payable: A tenancy agreement must state the amount payable as rent. This is often stated in the reddendum which contains the periodicity of payment of rent. If the tenancy is for a term certain for example, 2 years, usually the rent is a lump sum covering the entire period and this should be reflected in the agreement. Furthermore, the method of payment of rent must be stated in the agreement either in arrears or in advance. It is also common to insert a clause for rent review in a tenancy agreement. This clause is added for the purpose of allowing the landlord to obtain from time to time the market rental value the premises would command if let out on the same terms on the open market on the review dates.
- The rights and duties of both parties: A tenancy agreement must contain clauses that stipulate the duties and obligations of both the landlord and the tenants. Some of the obligations of the landlord are: To allow the tenant to enjoy peaceful and quiet use of the premises, to carry out repairs, to insure the premises against loss, to inspect the demised premises, and to make the premises fit for habitation. On the other hand, some of the obligations of the tenant includes: to pay rent at the time and in the manner stated in the agreement, to pay rates and charges, to carry out repairs, not to assign or sublet the premises, not to alter the premises without the consent of the landlord.
- The mode the tenancy is to be determined: A tenancy agreement must equally state the mode the relationship is to be determined. Most often, the agreement is determined by a notice to quit. Also, a tenant may determine the tenancy by serving on the landlord a notice to determine the tenancy relationship. In some agreement, there is the provision for arbitration and an arbitration clause inserted. The clause may require that if issues relating to tenancy arise, parties are obligated to submit themselves to arbitration before litigation is resorted to. Parties could appoint an arbitrator or submit themselves to arbitrators working with the government.
- A tenancy agreement must have an execution and an attestation clause: this is the part of the agreement where the landlord and tenant will sign and their witnesses will sign as well.
DRAFT OF A TENANCY AGREEMENT.
THIS TENANCY AGREEMENT is made this ————-day of ———-2019
Chief Obidinma of No. 5 Bosede Street, opposite River Junction, Victoria Island ,Lagos State (hereinafter referred to as the landlord) on the one part
Miss Vera Chinwendu of No 16 Chimma Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos State (hereinafter referred to as the tenant)
The landlord is the owner of the Three Bedroom Flat and its appurtenances situate at No 5 Bosede Street, opposite River Junction, Victoria Island, Lagos State herein referred to as the demised premises. The landlord desires to let the (3) Three Bedroom Flat to the tenant for a fixed term of one year.
THIS AGREEMENT HEREBY WITNESSES AS FOLLOWS
Pursuant to the agreement and in consideration of the rent of N700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) paid by the tenant in advance (the receipt whereof the Landlord hereby acknowledges), the Landlord hereby demises unto the tenant ALL THAT THREE BEDROOM FLAT and its appurtenances thereto situate at No 5 Bosede Street, opposite River Junction, Victoria Island, Lagos State (hereinafter referred to as the “Demised Premises”) TO HOLD SAME unto the Tenant for a FIXED-TERM of 1(One) year with effect from the 1st day of May, 2019 to 30th day of April, 2020.
THE TENANTS COVENANTS WITH THE LANDLORD AS FOLLOWS:
- To pay yearly in advance at the expiration of the current rent the sum N700, 000 (Seven Hundred Thousand Naira) only on the day and in the manner herein stipulated.
- To pay all rates, taxes, assessment, charges, outgoings payable now or as may be stipulated in the future.
- To make use of the premises and to permit the premises to be used for RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES only.
- To keep the premises in a tenantable state and not to repair the inside fixtures, fittings, and glasses on the demised premises and not to remove from it any fixture on effect but to keep them in the current state of repair and condition (reasonable wear and tear excepted)
- Not to sublet, assign or otherwise part with possession of the demised premises or any part thereof.
- To insure the premises at all times during the term against loss or damages
- To maintain peace in the neighborhood and not to be involved in any act that would cause breach of peace in the neighborhood.
- To permit the landlord, his agent or privies to inspect the demised premises upon notice of inspection being served on the tenant 48 hours prior to such inspection.
- THE LANDLORD COVENANTS WITH THE TENANT AS FOLLOWS
- That the Tenant, paying the rent hereby reserved and observing and performing the several covenants and stipulations herein on his part, shall peaceably hold and enjoy the Demised premises during the said term without any interruption by the Landlord or any person rightfully claiming under or in trust for him.
- To keep the Demised premises and any permitted addition structurally sound, wind and water tight with the agreement of the Tenant.
IT IS FURTHER AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
- That if the Tenant shall be desirous of being granted a fresh term at the expiration of the 1(One) year hereby granted, he shall not less than 3 (three) months before the said expiration apply to the Solicitor in writing for a fresh term of 1(One) year to be granted at the rent to be fixed by the Landlord, subject to such terms and conditions as may be stipulated by the Landlord.
- The rent reserved shall be subject to revision every 3 years of the term created in this agreement and such revised rent shall be fixed by agreement between the parties.
- That this Tenancy Agreement could be determined by either of the parties herein by the issuing of 3(Three) months’ notice without prejudice to paragraph (iv) below.
- That if the rent hereby or reviewed or any part thereof shall not be paid for 21(twenty one) days after becoming payable (whether formally or legally demanded or not) and or if the Tenant neglects to perform and or observe any of the said covenant, the Landlord may at any time thereafter re-enter upon the Demised premises or any part thereof in the name of the Landlord antecedent to breach of covenants herein contained on the tenant.
- That the failure of the Landlord or his Solicitor to insist upon the strict performance of any of the terms, conditions and covenants on the tenant herein contained shall not be deemed a waiver of any rights or remedies that the Landlord may have against the Tenant and shall not be deemed a waiver of any subsequent breach of terms, conditions or covenants on his part herein contained.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties to this agreement have fixed their hands the day and year first above written.
Signed by the within named
IN THE PRESENCE OF
Signed by the within named
MISS VERA CHINWENDU
IN THE PRESENCE OF