Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship?

Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship

Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship? Daily Law Tips (Tip 649) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Shelter is one of the basic needs of man. Whether rich or poor, we all need shelter and one is either a landlord, tenant or squatter. During economic hardship (recession), paying rent could be harder (in some cases impossible). For a landlord, the messiah may be increased rent, while to a tenant, increased rent is sheer insensitivity and wickedness. This work will answer the question; Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship (Recessions)?

Nigeria is a capitalist state with government regulating business space but not inferring with businesses. Hence, persons in Nigeria are allowed to make agreements, transact and execute lawful businesses freely. In landlord and tenants relationship, government through the legislatures have made laws to regulate landlords and tenants while the judiciary is available for dispute resolution. Among the regulations placed on landlord and tenant relationships, are; duration of notices to be given to tenants and the process of evicting tenants. Above all, parties (landlord and tenant) are bound by their agreement and economic hardship will not frustrate their agreement unless there is an exception for such period in the agreement of parties.

Except where there is a valid law/regulation of rent (Rent Control Laws), generally, a landlord can increase the rent of his property at anytime and to any rate, so far as it is done before a tenant rents the property. Where it is done during the stay of a tenant, it must be done with the consent of the tenant and mostly for a subsequent term (tenancy period). It is like, unilaterally, changing a goal post in the middle of a football match. A landlord cannot increase rent at the middle of a term without the consent of the tenant and where there is rent increment before a new term, the tenant has the right to continue with the new rent or leave the property or be lawfully evicted by the landlord. Click to download for free the law for Landlords and Tenants in Abuja. 

Eviction of tenant starts with the issuance of valid notices and continue to the institution of a case and the obtaining of an order of court. Police and law enforcement agencies have no role to play in eviction. The throwing out of a tenant or locking up of doors/gates of tenant by landlord or his agents is unlawful. And, a tenant can sue his landlord for violating his fundamental human rights or that of his dependants during and even after expiration of tenancy.

On the issue of rent increment, below are the words of the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal;  “The issue of rent between the landlord and tenant is a matter of agreement. The Agreement may be express or implied. The relationship between them too is a contractual one. And being a matter of contract its term cannot be altered by either party without the agreement of the other. See Udih v. Izedonmwem (supra). Unless the landlord and the tenant are ad idem a landlord’s unilateral decision to increase the amount of rent payable will be ineffective. A unilateral increase of rent is an offer or a proposal made by the landlord…. Consequently where there is no agreement on an increase in rent the status quo ought to be maintained and this means that the agreed rent should therefore subsist. See Are v. Ipaye (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 132) P.298 at 313 G-H; Mba- Ezev-Okufo (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.135) P.787 at 795 F-G.”Per GALADIMA ,J.S.C ( Pp. 18-20, para. B). Quotation is from the case of COBRA LTD & ORS v. OMOLE ESTATES & INVESTMENT LTD (2000) LPELR-6809(CA). Click to read other works on Landlords and Tenants Relationship in Nigeria. 


  1. Sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 19 and 20 of the Recovery of Premises Act 1945, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (ABUJA) and other similar tenancy laws across the states in Nigeria.
  2. Judgement of the Court of Appeal (on rent increment) in the case of COBRA LTD & ORS v. OMOLE ESTATES & INVESTMENT LTD (2000) LPELR-6809(CA)
  3. Judgment of the Court of Appeal (on maintaining statutorily approved rent price) in the case of OGAR v. ILOETOMMA (2015) LPELR-40694(CA)










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