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A Tenant Cannot Challenge The Ownership Right/Title Of His Landlord

A Tenant Cannot Challenge The Ownership Right/Title Of His Landlord

A Tenant Cannot Challenge The Ownership Right/Title Of His Landlord.  Daily Law Tips (Tip 447) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

The law assumes that a landlord to a tenant is the owner of the property given to a tenant and consequently estopps/prohibits a tenant from challenging and disputing the ownership rights/title of his landlord to such property. Once a tenant challenges the ownership rights/title of his landlord, the tenant forfeits his tenancy automatically. This applies to Leases and Licenses too; a Leasee/Licensee cannot challenge or question the ownership rights/title of a Leasor/Licensor and where a Leasee/Licensee does such, he automatically forfeits his lease/license.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has also confirmed this principle of law, below is a quotation from a decision of Court of Appeal, while relying on a Supreme Court Judgment.

“In Dr. Michael Emuakpor Abeke V. Banister A. A. Odunsi (2013) 54 NSCQR 564 @ p. 587, on the issue of a tenant challenging his landlord’s ownership right, it was expatiated inter alia thus: the Honourable Court held that; “On the effect of denial by a tenant of his landlord’s title, it is instructive to note that the Court below had agreed that a tenant that denies that his landlord is the owner of the premises he lives in is liable to forfeit the tenancy. The Court below relied on Woodfall Landlord and Tenant 27th Edition paragraph 29 at page 18. In this authority it is slated thus: “Tenant is estopped from disputing landlord’s title. It is one of the first principles of the law of estoppel as applied to relations between landlord and tenant that a tenant is estopped from disputing the title of his landlord. This applies to written and oral tenancy agreement as well as to lease under seal. Thus a lessee cannot dispute his lessor’s title by setting up an adverse title whilst retaining possession.” Per GEORGEWILL, J.C.A.

1. Sections 170, 258 and 259 of the Evidence Act, 2011
2. And the decisions of Supreme Court of Nigeria and that of the Court of Appeal, respectively;
4. LAWANI v. GRILLO & ORS (2018) LPELR-CA/L/813A/2013


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