Can Notice To Quit Be Issued During Court Strike?


Daily Law Tips (Tip 805) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:   

It is not new that the Nigerian courts have been closed since 6th April 2021. This has halted the services of courts in Nigeria. Among the common services of Nigerian courts are; certification of documents, making of affidavits and issuance of Notice to Quit on behalf of landlords. The strike is greatly strangulating access to justice, even as louts are profiting from illegal judicial services their offer around courts gates and car parks across Nigeria. My earlier work, titled; “Unknown-Court-Staff & the Affidavits Obtained During Court Strike” covers this issue.

The ongoing judiciary strike, prompted a question from a participant on our free Daily Law Tips forum. His question was, “Can Notice to Quit Be Issued During Court Strike?” and this work answers the question. It creates awareness on the nature of a notice to quit and the persons that can issue a notice to quit.

Notice to Quit; What is it and Who Can Issue it?

Like every other relationship, there are laws regulating tenancy relationships. Most states in Nigeria have their own Landlord and Tenancy State Laws, regulating landlords and tenants in their states. The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja has the “Recovery of Premises Act, 1945” to guide landlords and tenants in Abuja. Generally, all the respective landlord and tenant states laws of the States and the FCT, will be referred to as the “Tenancy Laws” in this work. A free copy of the Recovery of Premises Act for Abuja can be download here.

Owners of landed property (landlords) are free to rent their property to willing occupiers (tenants). At all times, a landlord can recover his property from a tenant but in accordance with the laid down legal procedures to avoid punishments. You can learn more on this issue via; “Tenants & Squatters Can Sue Landlords For Violation of Human Rights”. Generally, recovery of rented property starts with the issuance of a notice to quit to the tenant from the landlord or is agent or a court of law. A notice to quit is a written statutory reminder issued by a landlord or his agents or a court to a tenant, reminding the tenant of the expiration of the tenant’s tenancy and giving the tenant a statutory period or agreed period to vacate the property or be sued in a court of law. On the effect of a notice  to quit, read this title; “Effect Of A Notice To Quit In Nigeria”.

A notice to quit can be issued by a landlord himself or by the agent of a landlord or a court of law. A landlord with appropriate skill can write a notice to quit by himself and serve it on his tenant without the services of a lawyer. The appropriate skill is important to ensure that the mandatory contents of a valid notice to quit are sufficiently provided in a notice to quit. A defective notice to quit is an invalid notice to quit and has no legal powers on a tenant.

To ensure that a notice to quit is rightly made, a landlord should engage the services of his agent to write a Notice to quit and serve it on a tenant. The agent of a landlord for the purposes of a notice to quit and other tenancy documents can only be a legal practitioner. By section the Legal Practitioners Act, only legal practitioners can act as agents of landlords and tenants in preparation of documents. Any other person in Nigeria that acts as an agent of a landlord or tenant cannot charge any fee and if any fee is charged the fee can be recovered from such person and the culprit prosecuted. It is a criminal offence for a non-lawyer to perform the works of a lawyer. My earlier works, titled; Estate Surveyors and Valuers Cannot Prepare Tenancy/Land Documents  and It Is An Offence For Non-Lawyer To Prepare Any Document/Agreement Relating To Rent, Buildings, Land Or Mineral Resources are detailed on this.

The third and last person that can issue a notice to quit is the court of law. The courts in Nigeria can be approached by a landlord for a notice to quit to be issued and served on his tenant. The courts of law that offers such services are often the Magistrate Court and the State High Courts. In practice, it is the court staff in courts that often draw up and issue notices to quit and not the Judges and Magistrates. The judiciary staff strike has made it impossible for courts to issue Notices to Quit. However, the strike does not affect the powers and rights of landlords to issue notice to quit by themselves or through their lawyers.

Conclusion:  

Notice to quit is germane in the recovery of premises. Although, many landlords rush to courts to obtain notices to quit, a notice to quit can be written and issued by a landlord or by a lawyer to the landlord. It is not mandatory that a notice to quit must come from court, since a landlord can write a notice to quit and also a lawyer can do same. Hence, to the question; “Can Notice to Quit Be Issued During Court Strike?”; yes, a notice to quit can be issued during a court strike through the hands of a landlord or the lawyer to a landlord. Courts cannot issue notice to quit during court strike but a landlord can at all times write and issue a notice to quit for his tenant or engage a lawyer to do so.

My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 6, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 19, 20 and 27 of the Recovery of Premises Act 1945, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (ABUJA) and other similar tenancy laws across the states in Nigeria.
  3. Sections 2, 22(1)(d), 22(2), 22(4), 22(5), 22(6), 22(7), 24 and 25 of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1975
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishment for Tenant that Forces Landlord Out.” (LearnNigerianLaws, 19 March 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishment-for-tenant-that-forces-landlord-out/> accessed 7 June 2021
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “What Happens To Tenants When Property Is Sold?” (com, 4 March 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/what-happens-to-tenants-when-property-is-sold/> accessed 7 June 2021
  6. Onyekachi Umah, “Can Money Spent on Repairs be Recovered from Rent?“ (com, 25 February 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-money-spent-on-repairs-be-recovered-from-rent/> accessed 7 June 2021
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishments For Landlords and Tenants In Nigeria” (com, 1 February 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishments-for-landlords-and-tenants-in-nigeria/> accessed 7 June 2021
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “Why Tenant Should Accept Letters & Notices From Landlord” (com, 20 January 2021) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/why-tenant-should-accept-letters-notices-from-landlord/> accessed 7 June 2021
  9. Onyekachi Umah, “Tenants & Squatters Can Sue Landlords For Violation of Human Rights” (com, 18 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/tenants-squatters-can-sue-landlords-for-violation-of-human-rights/> accessed 7 June 2021
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “Should Landlord Stop Rent-Owing Tenants from Moving Out?” (com, 26 August 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/should-landlord-stop-rent-owing-tenants-from-moving-out/> accessed 7 June 2021
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “Covid-19 and Landlords: Can Government Force Landlords not to Eject Tenants?” (com, 15 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/covid-19-and-landlords-can-government-force-landlords-not-to-eject-tenants-daily-law-tips-tip-548-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “House Rent and COVID-19: Can Landlords Evict Tenants?” (com, 7 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/house-rent-and-covid-19-can-landlords-evict-tenants-daily-law-tips-tip-542-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  13. Onyekachi Umah, “Landlords Are Entitled To Rent Sum Even Where Notices To Quit Are Served On Tenants“ (com, 23 October 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-211-landlords-are-entitled-to-rent-sum-even-where-notices-to-quit-are-served-on-tenants/> accessed 7 June 2021
  14. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of Tenants and Landlords in Nigeria” (com, 2 September 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-landlords-and-tenants-in-nigeria/> accessed 7 June 2021
  15. Onyekachi Umah, ““After A Property Occupied By Tenants Is Sold, Who Should Such Tenants Hold Responsibile?” (com, 16 July 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-142-after-a-property-occupied-by-tenants-is-sold-who-should-such-tenants-hold-responsibile/> accessed 7 June 2021
  16. Onyekachi Umah, “Estate Surveyors and Valuers Cannot Prepare Tenancy/Land Documents” (com, 30 November 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/estate-surveyors-and-valuers-cannot-prepare-tenancy-land-documents/> accessed 7 June 2021
  17. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Payment of Rent and Who Must Prove It.” (com, 1 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-prove-payment-of-rent-and-who-must-prove-it/> accessed 7 June 2021
  18. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship?” (com, 8 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-landlord-increase-rent-during-economic-hardship/> accessed 7 June 2021
  19. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Remove Roof of a Tenant For Failure to Pay Rent/Pack out?” (com, 3 August 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/should-a-landlord-remove-roof-of-a-tenant-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-624-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  20. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Lock Gates/Doors of a Tenant for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out ?” (com, 29 July 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/should-a-landlord-lock-gates-doors-of-a-tenant-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-620-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  21. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Cut-off Tenant from Water/Electricity Supply for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (com, 17 July 2020)  <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/should-a-landlord-cut-off-tenant-from-water-electricity-supply-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-612-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  22. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent Without Consent of his Tenant?” (com, 9 June 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-landlord-increase-rent-without-consent-of-his-tenant-daily-law-tips-tip-585-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  23. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Legally Make Landlord Pay Back Or Deduct From Rent, Money Spent On His Property By Tenant” (com, 9 November 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-legally-make-landlord-pay-back-or-deduct-from-rent-money-spent-on-his-property-by-tenant-daily-law-tips-tip-454-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 7 June 2021
  24. Onyekachi Umah, “The Making of a Hybrid Tenancy/Lease Agreement; a Guide for Lawyers and Landlords in Nigeria.” (com, 6 July 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/the-making-of-a-hybrid-tenancy-lease-agreement-a-guide-for-lawyers-and-landlords-in-nigeria/> accessed 7 June 2021
  25. Onyekachi Umah, “Effect Of A Notice To Quit In Nigeria.” (com, 3 August 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-156-effect-of-a-notice-to-quit-in-nigeria/> accessed 7 June 2021
  26. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Tenant In Nigeria.” (com, 11 March 2016) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-a-tenant/> accessed 7 June 2021
  27. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Landlord In Nigeria” (com, 11 March 2016) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-a-landlord/> accessed 7 June 2021

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