A new law aimed at protecting tenants and landlords in Lagos State is being processed by the State House of Assembly.The bill for the law was discussed at one day stakeholders parley held at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium of the Assembly complex on Tuesday.
The bill titled; “A Bill for a Law to Regulate the Relationship of the parties under Tenancy Agreements and Specify the Procedure for the Recovery of Premises in Lagos State And For Connected Purposes.
addresses issues such as jurisdiction of the courts, tenancy agreement, advance rent, rent payment receipt, rights of a tenant, obligations of the landlord and obligations of a commercial tenant regarding rent payment.
Others areas captured in the bill includes, obligation regarding business premises, service charge, facility and security deposits, payment of professional fees, provision for reentry, length of notice, payment of arrears rent amongst others.
Speaking at the parley, a participant, Mr. Omoniyi Onabule observed that one of the provisions in the bill could make some defaulting tenants delay matter, and that facility management business involves payment of rents and payment of service charges.
Onabule added that there might be need to restrain the tenant before he clears his debt, and that the rate of the tax needed to be looked at.
Also speaking, a participant from the State Judiciary, Mrs. Busola Okunuga called for clarification on section 4 subsection 4, which concerns specification on application to the court, and called for more clarifications on the mode of prosecution of the offenders.
“In Section 11 (1c), no penalty is indicated for non compliance by the Landlord. Section 19 contradicts section 14 of the law, which deals with the tenant who is in arrears of rent.
“How many days notice would be given the occupants to leave in Section 25e, where the building is specified unsafe for occupation,” she stated.
In his submission, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Housing, Architect Dipo Adebayo explained that the bill was well balanced on the rights of the landlords and tenants.
He noted that the issue of alternative resolution should not be compulsory, saying it could be optional.If it’s made compulsory, there should be a timeline. The parties should have right to court if it is not resolved on time.
“Under Section 30, which deals with offences and fines, fines have been imposed if the tenant vandalises the property. There should be a cost to the property vandalised and it should not just be a fixed cost.
“While some timelines have been set for cases, the 90 and 14 working days should be reduced to 60 and 14 working days respectively,” he said.On his part, the National President of Property Owners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Jide Odelola disclosed that tenants do give oral notices, when they are leaving the premises at a particular time.
He stressed that it is a common belief among tenants that they should not pay after they have been given quit notice and that they believe that they should be given six months notice after the expiration of the quit notice.
“There is also the issue of payments for service providers. A tenant in my house left N79,000 on his electricity bill as debt and he left the debt unpaid. Some tenants leave LAWMA Bill for the landlords, when they are leaving,” he stated.
Speaking in an interview, Chairman of the House Committee on Housing, Hon. Ibrahim Layode explained that the Assembly wanted all the citizens of the state to be aware of the law so that the people would not say they were not been carried along.
The lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency 1 added that the tenancy bill is about the obligations and rights of the tenants and landlords. He said: “Most of the issues that occurs between the landlords and tenants would be solved and at the end of the day they would know how to live together as one,” he said.