Governor Babatunde Fashola finally brought great relief to millions of Lagos tenants on Wednesday as he signed tenancy bill into law.
There have been series of oppositions from those against the passage of the Bill.
It is now unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant rent in excess of six (6) months (one year in the case of a new tenant) in respect of any premises. Any landlord who demands for a rent of more than six months from a sitting tenant will be liable to six months in jail or pay N100,000 fine.
Likewise, it is also unlawful for a sitting tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of six months, as it is for new tenants to offer or pay rent in excess of one year. Any landlord who collects more than a year rent from a new tenant will spend three months in jail or pay a fine of N100,000.
There is also provision for forcible eviction of a tenant by any landlord, which attracts six months jail term or N250, 000 fine.
He also signed the state Park and Gardens Bill. He said property owners should endeavor to make life bearable for those who do not own property in the state.
He added that if property owners made sacrifice, many things would change for the better as price indices would move in a more affordable direction and everyone would be better for it.
He said, “Few privileged landlords should be able to make some sacrifice to help the poor and less privileged members of the society. This is the reason why this bill has been commended even before it became a law. It seeks to protect the poor and the underprivileged. A society that cannot protect the underprivileged cannot protect the privileged.”
Fashola reiterated his administration’s commitment to the provision of affordable housing in the state, stressing that details of implementation would soon be made public.
He also said, “It seeks to ask us to stop passing the cost of our solicitors and our agents because after asking for two years rent, we also ask the tenant to pay landlord’s agent fees and the landlord’s lawyer’s fees who will make an agreement in favor of the landlord. Tenant has a right to also go and engage his own lawyer. This is the character and representative essence of our democracy. This is the law our people want.”
He further added that the law also protects the interest of the landlords by making it impossible for tenants to shirk their own responsibilities.
The law however exempted property owned by educational institutions for staff and students, residential promises provided for emergency shelter, property made available for rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment, and residential premises in a care or hospice, or mental health facility.