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TENANCY AT SUFFERANCE & STATUTORY TENANCY

Dictum

A tenant who enters upon premises by reason of a contract with the landlord is a contractual tenant. Such a tenant holds an estate which is subject to the terms and conditions of the grant. Once that tenancy comes to an end by effluxion of time or otherwise and the tenant holds over without the will or agreement of the landlord, he becomes a tenant-at-sufferance. This is strictly a common law concept. But sometimes there is a statute which gives security of tenure to such a tenant after his contractual tenancy has expired. Where such a statute exists he now holds the premises no longer as a contractual tenant because there no longer exists a contract between him and the landlord. But he nonetheless retains possession by virtue of the provisions of the statute and is entitled to all the benefits and is subject to all the terms and conditions of the original tenancy.

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

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TENANCY AT WILL COMMENCES AFTER YEARLY TENANCY IF NO RENEWAL

I hold the considered view that from the moment a year’s rent became due and payable by the respondent but remained unpaid, the yearly tenancy, if any, created by the conduct of the parties thereto came to an end by effluxion of time and the respondent thereby became a tenant at will of the 1st appellant by continuing in possession of the property. In law we describe the respondent at that stage as holding over the property and in that capacity it became a tenant at will.

– Onnoghen JSC. Odutola v. Papersack (2007)

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THREE MAIN TYPES OF TENANCY

Be that as it may, there are 3 main types of tenancy, tenancy at will, periodic tenancy and fixed term (or term certain). – AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, JCA. Bocas v. Wemabod (2016)

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RECOGNITION OF TWO CLASSES OF TENANTS

It is now well settled, by decided cases of this court that for the purposes of the Rent Control and Recovery of Premises, the law recognises only two classes of tenants. These are the contractual tenancies, and the statutory tenancies.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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PREMISES HAVE NO DEFINITE DEFINITION FROM THE AUTHORITIES CITED

Let us first examine the meaning of the term “premises”. From the many learned legal works cited to us by appellant’s counsel Corpus Juris Secondum (supra), Jowitts Dictionary of English Law( supra) and Strouds Judicial Dictionary of English Law (supra), it appears that the term premises’ has a fluid or flexible meaning without a static connotation. It sometimes means bare land and sometimes land with buildings thereon, its meaning at any given. time would be determined according to what the parties so decide, as may be ascertained from the document executed by the parties. On the other hand, from the authorities cited by the respondents Ponsford v. H.M.S. Aerosols, Doe d. Hemming v. Willetes (supra), Cuff v. J & F Store Property Co. Ltd (supra) and Turner v. York Motors Property Ltd the term premises’ under the Recovery of Premises Law, Cap 118, Law of Lagos States, is used in the two senses of buildings with its grounds or appurtenances or simply as land without any building thereon. It may be noted that what can be distilled from the authorities of decided cases cited to us, including a welter of definitions in lexicons is that the term premises’ may connote bare land or the land with the buildings thereon, depending on what the parties intend it to connote, having regard to the circumstances of the case. In the final analysis, there is no doubt whatsoever that the meaning or the definition of the term “premises” is fraught with difficulties and whether it is intended to convey a precise or specific meaning will continue to exercise the courts because the situation in each case will unquestionably depend on the facts of the case thereof.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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PLEA FOUNDED ON THE ALLEGATION OF CUSTOMARY TENANCY – LEGAL CONSEQUENCES

Now before proceeding to analyse the evidence, let me restate the legal consequences on the issue of burden of proof when a claim is founded on customary tenancy. It is settled principle of law that a claim which seeks a declaration that the Defendants are customary tenants of the plaintiff and other consequential reliefs emanating there from postulates that the Defendants are in exclusive possession of the land in dispute, and by the operation of Section 146 of the Evidence Act Cap. E14 of the Laws of the Federation, there is presumption that the Defendants in such exclusive possession are the owners of the land in dispute until the contrary is proved to rebut that presumption. The only way to rebut the presumption is by strict proof of the alleged customary tenancy. That is the danger of a plea founded on the allegation of customary tenancy.

— F.F. Tabai JSC. Tijani Dada v Jacob Bankole (2008) – S.C. 40/2003

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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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