Can Money Spent on Repairs be Recovered from Rent? Daily Law Tips (Tip 744) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)
Often, tenants are forced to repair the property they occupy, instead of waiting for their nonchalant landlords. Some tenants also seek to recover the monies expended on such repairs from their landlords. Most times, landlords refuse to refund tenants for the repairs done by tenants, even where the consent of the landlord was obtained before the repairs. This works answers the question; “Can Money Spent on Repairs be Recovered from Rent?”
Landlords, Repairs and Tenants:
Repairs and the person to conduct them or pay for such repairs are issues that should be contained in a good tenancy agreement. Where there is no agreement or good agreement, it is taken that structural repairs are for landlords while repairs on ordinary wear and tear are for tenants. Above all, a tenant can perform any repairs on behalf of a landlord and be refunded by the landlord, where there is a written permission from the landlord. Oral consent of a landlord is not sufficient.
On the issue at hand; whether money spent on repairs be recovered from rent by a tenant, below are the words of the Court of Appeal on the issue. “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 – see 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 obligations.” Per AMINA ADAMU AUGIE ,J.C.A ( Pp. 22-26, paras. D-A ). BOCAS NIGERIA LTD v. WEMABOD ESTATES LTD (2016) LPELR-40193(CA)
Rent is a specific benefit of a landlord from a tenant for renting out a property. An agreement to pay rent is not subject to an agreement to make repairs by a landlord. The rent is to be paid with or without repairs by a landlord. Rent is independent duty of a landlord to repair. A tenant is to pay for rent, whether or not repairs are made by the landlord. So, a tenant cannot deduct or recover any cost of repairs from the rent to be paid to a landlord. Rather, a tenant can bring an action for recovery of cost of repairs against a landlord.
On the other hand, things will be different where a landlord and a tenant agrees in writing that rent will be short of cost of repairs or that rent will not be paid where there are no repairs by the landlord. There is need for lawyers to start drafting tenancy agreements with a mind to avert common tenancy difficulties. My work on a hybrid tenancy agreement is instructive and accessible via; https://sabilaw.org/the-making-of-a-hybrid-tenancy-lease-agreement-a-guide-for-lawyers-and-landlords-in-nigeria/
My authorities, are:
- Sections 1, 2 and 15 of the Recovery of Premises Act 1945, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (ABUJA) and other similar tenancy laws across the states in Nigeria.
- The judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of BOCAS NIGERIA LTD v. WEMABOD ESTATES LTD (2016) LPELR-40193(CA)
- Onyekachi Umah, “The Condition For A Landlord To Refund His Tenant For Repairs Made On A Rented Apartment In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 July 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-132-the-condition-for-a-landlord-to-refund-his-tenant-for-repairs-made-on-a-rented-apartment-in-nigeria/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 September 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/can-a-landlord-increase-rent-during-economic-hardship/> accessed 24 February 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Should Landlord Stop Rent-Owing Tenants from Moving Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 26 August 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/should-landlord-stop-rent-owing-tenants-from-moving-out/> accessed 24 February 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah,”Should A Landlord Remove Roof Of A Tenant For Failure To Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 August 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/should-a-landlord-remove-roof-of-a-tenant-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-624-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Should A Landlord Lock Gates/Doors Of A Tenant For Failure To Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 29 July 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/should-a-landlord-lock-gates-doors-of-a-tenant-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-620-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Should A Landlord Cut-Off Tenant From Water/Electricity Supply For Failure To Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 17 July 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/should-a-landlord-cut-off-tenant-from-water-electricity-supply-for-failure-to-pay-rent-pack-out-daily-law-tips-tip-612-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/> accessed 21 February 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Landlord Increase Rent Without Consent Of His Tenant?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 9 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/can-a-landlord-increase-rent-without-consent-of-his-tenant-daily-law-tips-tip-585-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “House Rent And Covid-19: Can Landlords Evict Tenants?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 April 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/house-rent-and-covid-19-can-landlords-evict-tenants-daily-law-tips-tip-542-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “How To Legally Make Landlord Pay Back Or Deduct From Rent, Money Spent On His Property By Tenant.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 9 November 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-legally-make-landlord-pay-back-or-deduct-from-rent-money-spent-on-his-property-by-tenant-daily-law-tips-tip-454-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Landlords Are Entitled To Rent Sum Even Where Notices To Quit Are Served On Tenants” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 October 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-211-landlords-are-entitled-to-rent-sum-even-where-notices-to-quit-are-served-on-tenants/> accessed 24 February 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Punishments For Landlords and Tenants In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 February 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/punishments-for-landlords-and-tenants-in-nigeria/> accessed 24 February 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Effect Of A Notice To Quit In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 August 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-156-effect-of-a-notice-to-quit-in-nigeria/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “The Making of a Hybrid Tenancy/Lease Agreement; a Guide for Lawyers and Landlords in Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 6 July 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/the-making-of-a-hybrid-tenancy-lease-agreement-a-guide-for-lawyers-and-landlords-in-nigeria/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Estate Surveyors and Valuers Cannot Prepare Tenancy/Land Documents” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 30 November 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/estate-surveyors-and-valuers-cannot-prepare-tenancy-land-documents/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “After A Property Occupied By Tenants Is Sold, Who Should Such Tenants Hold Responsible?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 16 July 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-142-after-a-property-occupied-by-tenants-is-sold-who-should-such-tenants-hold-responsibile/> accessed 19 January 2021
- Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of Tenants and Landlords in Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 September 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/rights-of-landlords-and-tenants-in-nigeria/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Payment of Rent and Who Must Prove It.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 October 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-prove-payment-of-rent-and-who-must-prove-it/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Why Tenant Should Accept Letters & Notices From Landlord” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 January 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/why-tenant-should-accept-letters-notices-from-landlord/> accessed 31 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Tenant In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 March 2016) <https://sabilaw.org/rights-of-a-tenant/> accessed 19 January 2021.
- Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Landlord In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 March 2016) <https://sabilaw.org/rights-of-a-landlord/> accessed 19 January 2021.
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