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TENANCY IS A BILATERAL CONDUCT BETWEEN PARTIES

Dictum

An act of a new tenancy is conscious and specific one which must be a subject of bilateral conduct on the part of the landlord and tenant. As a matter of law, the parties must clearly and unequivocally express their willingness to enter into the new tenancy at the termination of the old one. As a specific act emanating from the landlord and the tenant, it cannot be a subject of guess or speculation. An agreement or contract is a bilateral affair which needs the ad idem of the parties. Therefore where parties are not ad idem, the court will find as a matter of law that an agreement or contract was not duly made between the parties.

– Tobi 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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TENANCY-AT-WILL DETERMINED ANYTIME

Wheeler v. Mercer (1956) 3 All ER 631, Lord Simonds said at page 634: “A tenancy at will though called a tenancy is unlike any other tenancy except a tenancy at sufferance to which it is next of kin. It has been properly described as a personal relation between the landlord and his tenant; it is determined by the death of either of them or by one of a variety of acts, even by an involuntary alienation, which would not affect the subsistence of any other tenancy.”

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COVENANT TO PAY RENT IS INDEPENDENT OF LANDLORD’S DUTY TO REPAIR

Oke v. Salako (1972) 11 CCHCJ 88, wherein Kassim, J., held – “…A tenant’s covenant to pay rent is independent of the landlord’s covenant to repair the premises; the tenant is not discharged from his obligation to pay rent merely because his landlord is unwilling to fulfill his obligation.”

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THE PAYMENT OF RENT IS IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN

In Property Holding Co. Ltd. v. Clarke (1945) 1 All ER 165 at 173, Evershed, L.J, approved a passage in Holdsworth History of England – “In modern law rent is not conceived of as a thing, but rather as a payment, which the tenant is bound by his contract to make to his landlord. From all indications, rent is in a class of its own, and it also stands very tall because the agreement to pay the rent outshines any other considerations. In other words, a tenant is not at liberty to engage in a rent strike because its covenant to pay rent is independent of the landlord’s obligation to effect repairs.”

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CUSTOMARY TENANT AND LAND USE ACT

It was the appellants’ contention that the claims of the parties were based on the Land Use Act. 1975. That was not disputed as the suit was filed in the trial High Court in 1981. On that date the Land Use Act had become applicable to all land in Imo State of Nigeria and by virtue of section 1 of the Act, same has been vested in the Governor of that State on that date. This provision takes away the freehold title vested in individuals or communities but not the customary right of use and control of the land. Section 36(1) does not enlarge the right of a customary tenant to any piece of land in non-urban area which was, at the commencement of the Act in his possession and occupation. A customary tenant remains so and is subject to the conditions attached to the customary tenancy.

— Wali JSC. Onwuka & Ors. V. Ediala & Anor. (SC.18/1987, 20 January 1989)

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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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