Daily Law Tips (Tip 718) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

In our 2020 free legal clinic sessions based on the free Daily Law Tips of Sabi Law Foundation, 65% of received inquiries were on tenancy matters. Most tenancy disputes get serious with a tenant refusing to accept or to acknowledge receipt of letters/notices issued by his landlord. Many tenants believe that accepting letters from their landlords means accepting to vacate their rent premises. It gets worse, where the date on a letter is earlier than the date of service. This work reveals reasons a tenant should accept and acknowledge letters/notices from his/her landlord.


Accepting Letters & Notices from Landlord:
An agreement can be written or oral, however, it is advisable to write agreements. Tenancy relationship and even lease should be written. Whether a tenancy agreement is written or not, evicting a tenant will often involve written documents. Evicting a tenant starts with letters and notices to a tenant. This may include; “Notice to Quit” and or “Seven Days Notice of Onwer’s Intention To Recover Possession” and court processes/documents.

By the way, a tenant cannot be evicted by the landlord or any person by force (even if the tenant is owing debt or the landlord wants to repair the property). Eviction of tenant must be by an order of court and will be performed by staff of court and not by Nigerian police, military or any force. A tenant can sue a landlord for violation of human rights and for other legal remedies.

Receiving, collecting, picking up, accepting, acknowledging and signing a document does not mean an admission, acceptance, consent or agreement with the contents of the document. Rater it is a mark of civilization and good intention to accept letters, notices and documents. It gives a good opportunity to the recipient to understand the content of the document and to seek adequate legal advice. It also gives room for parties to commence negotiation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (to settle their dispute without going to court). Avoiding to accept a letter, notice or court processes may make a court think poorly of a tenant (most cantankerous and troublesome tenants refuse to accept service of documents).

There is no benefit in refusing to accept letter, notices or court processes. After all, the same document that one refused to accept can easily be pasted on the fence, gate, door or sent via courier and social media or even punished in newspaper or social media. By the way, a landlord and his agents do not need an order of court before they can serve any letter/notice on a tenant by pasting, courier, social media or any other substituted means. An order of court for substituted means will be needed where the document sought to be served is a court process from a case in court. “Notice to Quit” and or “Seven Days Notice of Onwer’s Intention To Recover Possession” are not court processes rather can be prepared by any lawyer and as such can be served by substituted means without an order of a court.

Recommendation and Conclusion:
There is no need for a hide and seek game! Accepting and acknowledging receipt of letter, notice or court processes is not harmful and will not damage a case. Tenants should accept documents from their landlords and then send them to lawyers for professional advice. It is good to always, state name, date and time of receiving any document on the copy for acknowledgement and also on the original copy. Such information will assist lawyers in calculation of time for responses and management of other time sensitive procedures.

My authorities, are:
1. Sections 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, 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 and 20 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. Onyekachi Umah, “Tenants & Squatters Can Sue Landlords For Violation of Human Rights” (LearnNigerianaws.com, 18 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/tenants-squatters-can-sue-landlords-for-violation-of-human-rights/> accessed 19 January 2021.
4. Onyekachi Umah, “Should Landlord Stop Rent-Owing Tenants from Moving Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 26 August 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/should-landlord-stop-rent-owing-tenants-from-moving-out/> accessed 19 January 2021.
5. Onyekachi Umah, “Covid-19 and Landlords: Can Government Force Landlords not to Eject Tenants?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
6. Onyekachi Umah, “House Rent and COVID-19: Can Landlords Evict Tenants?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
7. Onyekachi Umah, “Landlords Are Entitled To Rent Sum Even Where Notices To Quit Are Served On Tenants“ (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
8. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of Tenants and Landlords in Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 September 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-landlords-and-tenants-in-nigeria/> accessed 19 January 2021.
9. Onyekachi Umah, ““After A Property Occupied By Tenants Is Sold, Who Should Such Tenants Hold Responsibile?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021
10. Onyekachi Umah, “Estate Surveyors and Valuers Cannot Prepare Tenancy/Land Documents” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 30 November 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/estate-surveyors-and-valuers-cannot-prepare-tenancy-land-documents/> accessed 19 January 2021.
11. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Payment of Rent and Who Must Prove It.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 October 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-prove-payment-of-rent-and-who-must-prove-it/> accessed 19 January 2021.
12. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 September 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-landlord-increase-rent-during-economic-hardship/> accessed 19 January 2021.
13. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Remove Roof of a Tenant For Failure to Pay Rent/Pack out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021
14. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Lock Gates/Doors of a Tenant for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out ?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
15. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Cut-off Tenant from Water/Electricity Supply for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
16. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent Without Consent of his Tenant?” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
17. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Legally Make Landlord Pay Back Or Deduct From Rent, Money Spent On His Property By Tenant” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
18. Onyekachi Umah, “The Making of a Hybrid Tenancy/Lease Agreement; a Guide for Lawyers and Landlords in Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 6 July 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/the-making-of-a-hybrid-tenancy-lease-agreement-a-guide-for-lawyers-and-landlords-in-nigeria/> accessed 19 January 2021.
19. Onyekachi Umah, “Effect Of A Notice To Quit In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.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 19 January 2021.
20. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Tenant In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 March 2016) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-a-tenant/> accessed 19 January 2021.
21. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Landlord In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 March 2016) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/rights-of-a-landlord/> accessed 19 January 2021.

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