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How to Evict a Tenant in Nigeria: A Comprehensive Guide
Evicting a tenant in Nigeria can be a tricky and stressful process. As a landlord, you may encounter several issues with your tenants, ranging from unpaid rent to property damages. Whatever the reason may be, the eviction process requires careful planning and adherence to the legal procedures set by the Nigerian law.
In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to evict a tenant in Nigeria, covering the legal procedures, required notices, and what to expect during the eviction process.
Understanding the Nigerian Tenancy Law
Before we delve into the eviction process, it is important to understand the Nigerian tenancy law. The law recognizes two types of tenancies: periodic and fixed-term tenancies. A periodic tenancy is a tenancy that runs from month to month, while a fixed-term tenancy has a specific end date.
The law also recognizes two types of eviction notices: quit notices and forfeiture notices. A quit notice is a notice given to a tenant to vacate the premises and is applicable to periodic tenancies. On the other hand, a forfeiture notice is a notice given to a tenant to end a fixed-term tenancy due to a breach of contract.
Grounds for Eviction
As a landlord in Nigeria, you can only evict a tenant for specific reasons, as stipulated by the Nigerian tenancy law. These reasons include:
- Non-payment of rent
- Breach of tenancy agreement
- Disturbance of peace
- Illegal use of the property
- Subletting without permission
Before initiating the eviction process, ensure that you have evidence to support your claim. This may include rent receipts, photographs of damages, or witness statements.
The Nigerian tenancy law requires landlords to give tenants a notice before initiating the eviction process. The type of notice required depends on the type of tenancy and the grounds for eviction.
For periodic tenancies, landlords must give tenants a quit notice, which is typically a notice of one month. The notice should be in writing and delivered to the tenant directly or through a registered post. The notice should include the reason for eviction and the date by which the tenant should vacate the premises.
For fixed-term tenancies, landlords must give tenants a forfeiture notice, which should be in writing and delivered to the tenant directly or through a registered post. The notice should outline the reasons for forfeiture and the date by which the tenant should vacate the premises.
If the tenant fails to vacate the premises after the notice period, the landlord can initiate court proceedings to obtain an eviction order. The landlord must file a claim at the Magistrates' Court, which has jurisdiction over the area where the property is located.
The court will then serve the tenant a summons to appear in court, and the tenant may choose to defend the claim or not. If the court finds in favour of the landlord, it will issue an eviction order, which the landlord can then use to remove the tenant from the property with the assistance of the police.
The Eviction Process
Once the eviction order is obtained, the landlord can proceed with the eviction process. The landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the eviction order and a notice to quit, which gives the tenant another opportunity to vacate the premises voluntarily.
If the tenant still refuses to vacate, the landlord can contact the police to assist with the eviction process. The police will accompany the landlord to the property and ensure that the eviction is carried out peacefully and without violence.
Evicting a tenant in Nigeria can be a complex and stressful process, and it is important to follow the legal procedures set by the Nigerian tenancy law. As a landlord, you must have valid reasons for eviction, give the appropriate notice, and obtain an eviction order from the court. Remember to maintain a professional and respectful relationship with your tenant throughout the process.
Can I evict a tenant without giving notice?
No, the Nigerian tenancy law requires landlords to give tenants a notice before initiating the eviction process.
How long does it take to evict a tenant in Nigeria?
The eviction process can take between two to six months, depending on the complexity of the case.
Can a tenant challenge an eviction order?
Yes, a tenant can challenge an eviction order in court if they believe the order was obtained unlawfully.
Can I change the locks to evict a tenant?
No, changing the locks to evict a tenant is illegal and can lead to legal consequences.
How can I avoid eviction as a tenant?
As a tenant, ensure that you pay your rent on time, comply with the terms of your tenancy agreement, and maintain a good relationship with your landlord.