It is very often the case that sometimes a tenant refuses to quit the premises and hand over the keys to the Landlord even when the length of time given him to quit the premises has elapsed. Many a times, the tenant refuses to move out because he has nowhere else to go, at some other times, he refuses to move out because he feels that the Notice to quit is undeserved, some tenants refuse to leave because they just do not feel like it. Whatever, the reasons for refusing to leave, this usually does not go down well with the Landlord who wants that tenant gone so he can rent out the place to another tenant or use his property for whatever he deems fit.
As infuriating as such a situation might be, the law frowns against extra-judicial means of ejecting such a tenant as that could amount to an illegality which could create problems for the Landlord. This article outlines the procedures which must be complied with in ejecting a tenant.
1. NOTICE TO QUIT
The very first step is to issue a valid notice to quit. It is important that the Notice to quit gives the tenant the length of notice required by law. This affords the tenant an opportunity to make plans for another accommodation before he finally quits the premises.
The law permits the Landlord and the tenant to determine the length of notice that each would be required to give if either of them wants to bring the tenancy to an end. It is therefore important that when the parties are negotiating the terms of the tenancy agreement, that the length of notice to be given by each party is properly spelt out.
2. 7 DAYS NOTICE OF OWNER’S INTENTION TO RECOVER POSSESSION
When after service of the Notice to quit, and the length of notice stipulated in the Notice to quit expires and the tenant or any person in possession of the property fails to give up possession of the property, then the Owner of the property (Landlord) is required to serve another notice on such a person. This notice is known as 7 Days’ Notice of Owner’s Intention to recover possession.
This Notice is to inform the tenant that if after 7 days , he is still in possession; that is, if he refuses to hand over the keys and move out, that the Landlord will take the matter to court and request the court to help him eject the tenant, since he has refused to move out on his own.
If after the 7 days stipulated in the notice the tenant still refuses to move out, then the Landlord can apply to the court for Recovery of his property/premises from the tenant. If the Landlord’s case has merit, then the court would issue an order ejecting the tenant.
Most times, some Landlords get angry at the tenant for refusing to move out after the expiration of the notice and they resort to ejecting the tenant forcefully, by either throwing out his possessions, removing the roof, cutting off power supply to his house, locking the gate, and all sorts of things, just to force the tenant out.
The court has frowned at such practices and has warned that Landlords should comply with the procedure of ejecting tenants under the law in order not to create problems for themselves. This is because when the law is not complied with, then the Landlord could be liable for trespass to property and might have to pay damages to the tenant.
It is usually best to get a lawyer to handle the process of ejecting a tenant, when the need to do so arises in order not to run afoul of the law.
SOURCE: NAIJA LEGAL TALK