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Punishment for Tenant that Forces Landlord Out.

Punishment for Tenant that Forces Landlord Out. Daily Law Tips (Tip 760) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)


“Punishment for Tenant that Forces Landlord Out” may sound unpopular when compared to “Punishment for Landlord that Forces Tenant Out”. In reality, there are situations where tenants are very cantankerous to the extent of seeking to perpetuate their stay without rent or to escape with unpaid rent. The Nigerian law has punishment for a tenant that forces landlord out (ie, unlawfully taking possession of premises from landlord). For every wrong, there is a remedy.

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Unlawful Possession of Property:

Where there is a dispute arising from a tenancy agreement, parties are to seek justice in court. A landlord is always a landlord and there is no way a tenant will lawfully take over the property of a landlord. No matter the duration of a tenancy relationship or the sum paid as rent or the failure of a landlord to repair property, a tenant cannot forcefully take over the property of a landlord.

A landlord can recover his property from a tenant by approaching a court of law for an order for repossession of property. Courts will not grant such orders without hearing the case of landlord and that of his tenant. Also, ahead of such hearing, the landlord is expected to have served a “Notice to Quit” and a “Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Possession”. However, there are few cases where a landlord does not need to issue a “Notice to Quit” to a tenant. It is based on evidence placed before a court, that the court will grant a landlord repossession of property and also order tenant to vacate the property.

Where a court grants an order of repossession to a landlord, the tenant can appeal the judgment, where the tenant believes there is injustice in the processes of the court that led to the order. If there is no appeal, then the tenant must obey the order of court and vacate the premises, so that the landlord can repossess his property.

There are cases where after an order of court (judgment) grants repossession to landlord, the tenant refuses to vacate the property or the tenant vacates but returns to retake the property. That is a foolish violation of an order of court. Where there is an order of court, there is the power of government. One that disregards a landlord that has an order of court, is one that has disregarded a court and the powers of government. For every action there is a consequence and for every violation of an order of court comes sanctions.

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It is a criminal offense for a tenant that has vacated a property following an order of court to unlawfully retake possession of the property from the landlord. It is an offence punishable with a fine of One Hundred Naira (N100.00) or imprisonment for six (6) months or both. This is the punishment in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and this punishment differs from what is obtainable in some other states in Nigeria.


Arguably, since there are more tenants than landlords in Nigeria and the poverty lines are expanding, one may hear more disturbing stories of harsh landlords. It does not mean that tenants are saints. There are cases where tenants have dealt mercilessly with their landlords; escaped with unpaid rents, maliciously damaged property, sublet property without permission, accumulated utilities bills and even fraudulently sold or attempted to sell the property of their landlords. So, both landlords and tenants need legal protection, since man is naturally greedy and self-seeking.

Where for any reason, a tenant vacates a property sequel to an order of court, the tenant has no right to seek to forcefully repossess such property from the landlord. The punishment for such is a fine or imprisonment or both. While the imprisonment is 6 months, the fine is N100.00 and with minimum wage at N30,000.00, the fine is too poor. The fine of N100.00 cannot deter crime. The federal legislatures must amend the 1945 law on landlords and tenants in Abuja (Recovery of Premises Act) to flow with present day realities. And, state legislatures must also do same for their states.


  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 6, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 19, 20 and 27 of the Recovery of Premises Act 1945, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (ABUJA) and other similar tenancy laws across the states in Nigeria.
  3. Onyekachi Umah, “What Happens To Tenants When Property Is Sold?” (, 4 March 2021) <> accessed 18 March 2021.
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “Can Money Spent on Repairs be Recovered from Rent?“ (, 25 February 2021) <> accessed 18 March 2021
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishments For Landlords and Tenants In Nigeria” (, 1 February 2021) <> accessed 18 March 2021.
  6. Onyekachi Umah, “Why Tenant Should Accept Letters & Notices From Landlord” (, 20 January 2021) <> accessed 31 January 2021.
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Tenants & Squatters Can Sue Landlords For Violation of Human Rights” (, 18 September 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  8. Onyekachi Umah, “Should Landlord Stop Rent-Owing Tenants from Moving Out?” (, 26 August 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  9. Onyekachi Umah, “Covid-19 and Landlords: Can Government Force Landlords not to Eject Tenants?” (, 15 April 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  10. Onyekachi Umah, “House Rent and COVID-19: Can Landlords Evict Tenants?” (, 7 April 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  11. Onyekachi Umah, “Landlords Are Entitled To Rent Sum Even Where Notices To Quit Are Served On Tenants“ (, 23 October 2018) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  12. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of Tenants and Landlords in Nigeria” (, 2 September 2018) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  13. Onyekachi Umah, ““After A Property Occupied By Tenants Is Sold, Who Should Such Tenants Hold Responsibile?” (, 16 July 2018) <> accessed 19 January 2021
  14. Onyekachi Umah, “Estate Surveyors and Valuers Cannot Prepare Tenancy/Land Documents” (, 30 November 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  15. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Payment of Rent and Who Must Prove It.” (, 1 October 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  16. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent During Economic Hardship?” (, 8 September 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  17. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Remove Roof of a Tenant For Failure to Pay Rent/Pack out?” (, 3 August 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021
  18. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Lock Gates/Doors of a Tenant for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out ?” (, 29 July 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  19. Onyekachi Umah, “Should a Landlord Cut-off Tenant from Water/Electricity Supply for Failure to Pay Rent/Pack Out?” (, 17 July 2020)  <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  20. Onyekachi Umah, “Can a Landlord Increase Rent Without Consent of his Tenant?” (, 9 June 2020) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  21. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Legally Make Landlord Pay Back Or Deduct From Rent, Money Spent On His Property By Tenant” (, 9 November 2019) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  22. Onyekachi Umah, “The Making of a Hybrid Tenancy/Lease Agreement; a Guide for Lawyers and Landlords in Nigeria.” (, 6 July 2019) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  23. Onyekachi Umah, “Effect Of A Notice To Quit In Nigeria.” (, 3 August 2018) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  24. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Tenant In Nigeria.” (, 11 March 2016) <> accessed 19 January 2021.
  25. Onyekachi Umah, “Rights of a Landlord In Nigeria” (, 11 March 2016) <> accessed 19 January 2021.

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