To update our memories and for the interest of those that are not quite conversant with the dictates of the Lagos Tenancy Law 2011, the aforesaid law came into effect in August 2011. It effectively repealed the hitherto Rent Tribunals (Abolition and Transfer of functions) Law 2007. Essentially, this law is aimed at inter-alia, "regulating rights and obligations under tenancy agreements and the relationship between the landlord and the tenant including the procedure for the recovery of premises and for other connected purposes in Lagos state".
To cut through the verbiage, the nitty gritty of the law and the one that is of most interest to most tenants is Section 4 that makes it unlawful for a landlord to demand or receive any rent in excess of one year from a sitting yearly tenant, six (6) months from a sitting monthly tenant and one year from a new or would be tenant. It is also unlawful for new and sitting tenants to offer to pay rents in excess of this proviso been a fine of one hundred thousand naira or three (3) months imprisonment.
Now the question is: are landlords and tenants adhering to the dictates of this law? How realistic, pragmatic and enforceable is this law? Are there class action cases to this effect? Many landlords especially the ignorant ones will bluntly and arrogantly tell whoever cares to listen that it is not Fashola that built his house for him. On the other hand, more often than not, many prospective tenants are either too desperate for an accommodation or ignorant of their rights under the law. The initial frenzy, public interest and the glimmer of hope that this much taunted law presented seem to have fizzled out.
There is no iota of doubt that this law is a step in the right direction. Effort should be geared towards fine tuning it and not allowing it to be a toothless bulldog. The Lagos state government must embark on ongoing enlightenment campaign in other to continually sensitize the citizenry of the import and dictates of this law.
It is high time the National Assembly articulated a nationwide Tenancy Law that trickles down the nook and cranny of the Nigerian federation.