Recovery Of Premises (1)


Most states have enacted their own recovery of premises law. The main object of this law, is to place limitation on the rights of the landlord. The law provides for procedures a landlord must adopt to recover possession. Section 2. of the Recovery of Premises Act Cap 544 laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990 states that a landlord is a person receiving (whether in his own right or as an attorney or agent) any rent from any person for the occupation of any accommodation in respect of which he claims a right to receive same.
At common law, the landlord on the effluxion of time or expiration of a valid notice to quit, may proceed to court for possession. However, the recovery of premises laws require an additional seven days notice of owner’s intention to apply to court to recover possession to be given to the tenant. A tenant, according to the recovery of premises Act, includes any person occupying premises, whether on payment of rent or otherwise, but does not include a person occupying premises under a bonafide claim to be the owner of the premises. Some laws like the Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises law. Vol. 7, laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003, include sub-tenant and service tenants. These are tenants that occupy premises by virtue of employment. Note that this is for the purposes of recovery premises.
A landlord who intends to quit a tenant can only take out a way after the expiration of the seven days notice of owner’s intention to recover premises. At the expiration of the seven days, the tenant becomes a statutory tenant and can only be evicted by a lawful court order. If the landlord indulges in an unlawful eviction, the landlord can be sued and made liable for damages. In Ihenacho V. Uzochukwu (1997) 1 SCNJ 117 at 284, the Supreme Court of Nigeria held that resort to self-help by the landlord to evict a tenant who is in lawful occupation is not within the purview of the provisions of the recovery of premises law and that such landlord renders himself liable to the tenant in trespass. But at common law, the tenant does not have that right, he is treated as a tenant at sufferance or a trespasser.
A keen observation of these laws shows that it tend to protect the interest of the tenant against that of the landlord with the object of regulating the recovery of and restraint summary eviction from occupied premises.