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11 Jan

LAND LAW 2.5 TRANSFER AND TERMINATION OF LEASES

TRANSFER OF LEASEHOLD INTEREST

Where there is nothing to the contrary in the lease agreement, the lessee may convey part of his leasehold interest (even if less than a day) to a legally capable third party. It can be done orally if the duration does not exceed 3 years. Where it exceeds 3 years, it must be done by deed and registered within 6 months- Section 2 Land Instrument Registration Law… else void at law (but in equity, interest can still subsist if there has been sufficient act of part performance from the sublessee (e.g. where the sub-lessee has paid money and moved into possession).

Where the lessee (sublessor) conveys everything to the sublessee, (I.e all his interest), then it is an “Assignment”… such must be done by deed and registered within 6 months-Ishola Williams V Hammond. Else void at law and only equitable interest therein-Motunde Properties V Kanu. Where the consent of the lessor is needed, the sub-lessor should obtain same… unless it is unreasonably withheld.

 

DETERMINATION OF LEASES.

MAY BE BY:

Effluxion of time: where the term fixed for the tenancy has expired. The recovery of premises laws mandate that 7 days notice to recover premises should be served, then the next step is to bring an action to recover the premises.

Surrender: This occurs where the tenant gives up possession of the premises and the immediate landlord accepts the surrender. The lease then merges in the landlord’s reversion and is extinguished. Where the surrender is to the ultimate/superior landlord, it operates merely as an assignment. E.g. A lets his property to B. B sublets the property to C. If C hands over possession to B, it is called a surrender (since B is his immediate landlord) but if C surrenders to A, it is called an assignment.

Merger: if for example the lessor transfers his freehold interest to the lessee.

Notice to Quit: Brings an end to a periodic tenancy at common law. Also brings an end to a tenancy which is for a fixed term.. A monthly tenant gets one months-notice, a weekly tenant gets one week notice, a yearly tenant get 6 months-notice. Where the valid notice expires, he becomes a tenant at sufferance and where he is subsequently asked to leave but remains, he becomes a trespasser. The above is the common law provision that applies to tenancy of vacant land. For land that is not vacant… Not however that where the land in question is not vacant, statutes would govern (Rent Control Legislations and Recovery of Premises Laws). This means that instead of becoming a tenant at sufferance, he becomes a statutory tenant. Therefore, requisite statutory notices must be given… This is then followed by an action to recover possession within the prescribed time (highlighted earlier)-A.P V Owodunni. However, in the case of a monthly tenant who is in arrears for over three months (or six under the Lagos law) a mere notice to recover possession can be served then the landlord can sue to recover possession-Coker V Adetayo.

– Frustration: In Araka V Mornier Construction Co Ltd, the court held that the yearly tenancy was frustrated by the war which mandated the occupiers to leave the area and the landlord was not entitled to the rent claimed. Prof I.O Smith is of the opinion that (apart from tenancy for a fixed term which is irrevocable until term expires) it is doubtful whether it should operate the case of a periodic tenancy where the tenant can surrender and relinquish possession in the event of frustration. As the court held in Odusanya V Oniororo where the monthly tenant did not surrender when the building went up in flames. The defense of frustration could not avail him. The application of frustration to leases has been questioned on the basis that a lease creates an estate in land.

          TENANT’S FIXTURES.

Fixtures can be seen as personal chattels annexed to land like cupboard, cabin, and so on. The common law rule is quic quid plantatur solo solo cedit. This rule has been subject to modification to meet the changing needs of the society. The tenant may remove his fixtures before (or within a reasonable time from) the termination of the tenancy-Smith V City Petroleum… provided the this does not leave the premises in a state of disrepair… he must make it habitable for prospective tenants-M-De Bank Transport V Weide and Co. To determine the fixtures he can remove, the court looks at whether the fixture was put in place to benefit the tenant or the land. It would usually be construed in favour of the tenant for shorter tenancies and on the land’s behalf for longer tenancies. Where he damages the premises in the course of removing his fixtures, he is to pay damages for repair or cost of reinstating the premises.

 

COMPENSATION FOR IMPROVEMENTS.

Improvement here means anything done by the tenant which adds to the rental value of the property. They must be of a permanent nature-Lord Denning in Newzealand Property Corporation V H.M and S ltd like painting the house, tiling the floor and so on which the tenant cannot ordinarily remove. Section 14 of the Recovery of Premises Act (other laws have similar provisions) provides that the tenant is entitled to compensation where.

– The improvement was done with the WRITTEN consent of the landlord. Although the court may order for fair compensation especially where the expenditure is substantial notwithstanding that the written consent of the Landlord was not gotten.

 

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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