RECOVERY OF RENT ARREARS AND TREATMENT OF DIFFICULT TENANTS IN RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
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1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
High demand for rental accommodation has been experienced as a result of the creation of thirty-six States and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory because of the need to house people moving into new States in addition to new ones being employed to fill up created vacancies in the new State and Local Government Council Departments. There is bound to be an increasing dependency on the private rental market for a long time to come in view of the high cost of various building materials, high interest rates on mortgage loans and the challenges facing applicants for the certificates of occupancy all these challenges coupled with poverty and unemployment in Nigeria has made it difficult for some tenants to pay their rent leading to accumulation of rent arrears. Due to poor enactment of policy and implementation, some tenants are stubborn and difficult refusing to pay their rent intentionally with dubious motive to cheat the landlords (Topham, 2012). The absence of many large corporate or institutional investors in the rental property market has widened the gap.
According to Burke (2000), the relative poor quality of tenancy management coupled with the polarization of estate agency practice have led to conflicts and disputes between or among landlords, estate agents and tenants as a result of refusal of some tenants to pay their rent areas. Bad tenants can be a real problem for not paying rent on time or leaving properties in a mess. In advanced countries, lodged information about bad tenants in tenancy databases assists estate agents and landlords make more informed decisions before taking in new tenant because some tenant will never abide by both oral and even written agreement leading to problems between the landlord and the tenants.
Accordingly, a landlord who seeks to recover his rent areas from a tenant must strictly comply with the provisions of the statutes guiding landlord and tenancy agreements in Nigeria.
In other words, the slightest deviation from the requirements of the law will frustrate an attempt to recover possession of rent areas and the premises no matter how troublesome and terrible such a tenant may be. Every State in Nigeria now has its own law on recovery of rents, areas and premises. The law in Nigeria is Recovery of Premises Act. Cap 544 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990. Section 2, Recovery of Premises Act Cap 544 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990 states that a landlord is a person entitled to immediate reversion of the premises and includes the attorney or agent of any such landlord or any 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. This section further states that a tenant includes any person occupying premises, whether on payment of rent or otherwise, but does not include a person occupying premises under a bona fide claim to be the owner of the premises. It is however imperative that landlord must operate within the confines of the law in the recovery of areas and treatment of difficult tenants in both residential and commercial properties which is what this study is focused on.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Every day with the increase in population, there is a concurrent need for houses to accommodate this rising population. As a result, there has always been the need for individuals, corporations and governments to build and lease or rent houses to fill this void. These houses could either be for residential or commercial purposes. This has brought the need to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants so as to avoid arbitrary increments in rents, non-payment of rent areas, wrongful eviction and illegal holding over of premises. The procedure for recovery of rent areas and premises is largely regulated by statutes. On any day following the day the rent was due, when the tenant failed to pay, the landlord can serve a termination notice to be effective ten days after the date the notice was served. The tenant may within five days after receipt of the notice pay all rents due and the notice of termination is then void (University of British Columbia, 2004). If the tenant refuses to pay or move out, eviction procedure may commence. Rent arrears are the commonest of all the reasons for tenant eviction and disagreement between tenants and landlords. (ACN, 2011; Nigeria Property Centre, 2012; Topham, 2012), the researcher will however examine the process of rent areas recovery and treatment of difficult tenants in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study
1. To examine the process of recovery of rent arrears from difficult tenant in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
2. To analyze the treatment of difficult tenants in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
3. To identify the factors that causes disagreement between landlord and tenants in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the processes of recovery of rent arrears from difficult tenant in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria?
2. How can difficult tenants be treatment in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria?
3. What are the factors that causes disagreement between landlord and tenants in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria?
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1. Outcome of this study will educate the landlord on the process of recovery of rent arrears from the tenants and how difficult tenants can be treated in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
2. It will also enlighten the tenants on the need to maintain adequate cooperation with the landlord with respect to prompt payment of rent.
3. The result will be useful for the government and policy makers on the need to formulate an effective policy that will solve any problem that may arise between the landlord and tenant of residential and commercial properties in Nigeria.
4. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study on the recovery of rent arrears and treatment of difficult tenants in residential and commercial properties in Nigeria will cover issues related to non-payment of rents arrears by tenants in Nigeria and how it can be addressed.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Burke DB, Snoe JA (2008). Disturbed Tenant: A Constructive Eviction in Property: Examples & Explanations - Page 312 - Google Books Aspen Publishers, Retrieved March 25, 2013, from books.google. com.ng/books?isbn=0735570310.
ACN (2011). What the New Lagos Tenancy Law Says Accessed on 30/9/2012 at http://actioncongress.org/category/news/article.
Nigeria Property Centre (2012). How to Recover Residential Premises from Tenants in Lagos State, Nigeria. Accessed on 30/02/2012 at www.nigeriapropertycentre.com/blog/author/administrator
Topham AF (2012). Termination of a Lease In "Real Property, An Introductory Explanation of The Law Relating to Land", Accessed on 13/01/2013 at http://www.chestofbooks.com/Real-PropertyLaw/ Section-III-Termination -of-A-Lease.html.