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RENT CAN BE COLLECTED DESPITE SERVICE OF NOTICE TO QUIT

Dictum

The fact that a landlord collected rent on a property still in occupation or possession of the tenant after notice to quit cannot by any stretch of the law, equity or imagination amount to a waiver of the notice to quit even where the notice had expired and the tenant refused to yield possession in time. The notice to quit would subsist until it is formally rescinded by the landlord and or when a fresh tenancy agreement is entered into.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Pillars v. William (2021)

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THERE IS PRESUMPTION OF OWNERSHIP IN CUSTOMARY TENANT UNLESS REBUTTED

In Raphel Udeze & Ors v. Paul Chidebe & Ors (1990) 1 NWLR (Part 125) 141 at 160-161 this Court per Nnaemeka-Agu JSC stated: “It is left for me to mention that the courts below also found that although the appellants pleaded that the respondents were their customary tenants who occupy the land in dispute on payment of tribute, they failed to proved such tenancy, It is significant to note that a customary tenant is in possession of his holding during good behaviour and until it is forfeited for misbehaviour. Once it is the case that such a person is a customary tenant and therefore in possession, then like any other person in possession of land, there is a presumption of ownership in his favour. Although the presumption is rebuttable by due proof of a tenancy, the onus is in the adversary to rebut it if he can. Where, as in this case, the customary tenancy is not proved, such a pleading may turn out to be a dangerous admission of possession in the opposite party upon which the trial court may base a presumption of ownership, unless, of course, it is rebutted.”

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WHEN RENT IS DUE FOR PAYMENT

Rent is paid as an acknowledgment of tenancy, and it shall be paid to the landlord or his agent in person or otherwise as directed by the landlord, when due depending on the terms of the tenancy, which in this case is monthly. By virtue of section 77(1) – Landlord and Tenants Law rent becomes due in the morning of the day appointed by the parties to a tenancy for payment thereof, if no specific day is appointed, rent becomes due on the last day of the period for which it is payable, so that annual rent payable annually becomes due on the last day of the year in respect of which it is payable, rent payable monthly becomes due on the last day of the month and so on.

– ADEKEYE JCA. Anyafulu v. Agazie (2005)

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STATUTORY TENANT

Pan Asian African Co. Ltd. v. National lnsurance Corp. (Nig.) Ltd. (1982) 9 SC 1 at p.13: “Put simply, the statutory tenant is an occupier, who when his contractual tenancy expires, holds over and continues in possession by virtue of special statutory provisions. He has also been described as “that anomalous legal entity,…who holds the land of another contrary to the will of that other person who strongly desires to turn him out. Such a person will not ordinarily be described as a tenant.”

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MESNE PROFITS & DAMAGES FOR USE AND OCCUPATION

Another area of difference between mesne profits and damages for use and occupation is the date of commencement. Mesne profits start to run from the date of service of the process for determining the tenancy (see Canas Property Co. Ltd. v. K. L. Television Services Ltd. (1970) 2 QB 433. But damages for use and occupation start to run from the date of holding over the property, the function of the court being to ascertain an amount which may constitute a reasonable satisfaction for the use and occupation of the premises held over by the tenant. The previous rent may sometimes be a guide, but may not be conclusive.

– Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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BREACH OF COVENANT IS A MERE GROUND FOR FORFEITURE

The 2nd respondent’s argument is also misplaced in another respect: It assumes that upon breach of a covenant in a lease, the forfeiture of the lease is automatic. It is, however, trite that a breach of a covenant is merely a ground for forfeiture. The lessee may, however, apply for relief.

– Nnaemeka-agu, JSC. Ude v. Nwara (1993)

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LETTER OF INSTRUCTION TO SOLICITOR GIVES HIM POWER

The law is that any such letter of instruction to the solicitor must be issued before the Notice to Quit is issued by the Solicitor otherwise the solicitor has no authority to act. Any notice to quit or notice of intention to apply to recover possession issued by any such solicitor before the letter of instruction is null and void and of no effect. – Ubaezonu JCA. Coker v. Adetayo (1992)

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