I was recently part of a mediation settlement agreement arrangement by a tenant who reported his property manager to a Human Right Outfit in Lagos for serving him a seven days eviction notice.
He claimed he was not owing any rent and that if at all there is going to be an eviction, he deserves to be given at least six months notice to quit or vacate the apartment.
I have been following up on this tenant’s issues for sometime now until he gave his property manager an invitation letter to appear before this Human Right outfit. This for me totally changed the complexion of the issues and problems this tenant has been creating ever since he was allowed into the apartment through the back door.
The property manager had on several occassions seek my advice on what could be done to get rid of this tenant because of the nuisance he is constantly creating in the building and his co-tenants are no longer happy living in the same building with this lunatic of a tenant.
It was alleged that he always beat up his wife at will, refuses to pay utility bills as at when due and he was also reported to have vandalized a central toilet pipe which he refuses to repair. He started rearing catfish in the premises without the consent of the property manager or the property owner thereby constituting nuisance to other occupiers in the premises. He was also reported to have at one time double padlocked the main entrance gate to the building and locked other occupiers outside on the pretest that one of the occupiers always cause dirt in his frontage with his car tyre.
However, this case would have been a lot easy and simple to handle, If the property manager has not regretably accepted the nuisance into the apartment without performing his due diligence and also without properly screening the tenant prior to acceptance.
The property manager made a mistake of accepting the tenant as a subtenant after the person who originally signed the lease contract agreement disappeared which this guy claimed to be his brother and who we can now refer to as the principal tenant.
The property manager collected a year rent from the defaulting tenant when the lease agreement of the principal tenant expired and this makes the guy feel like he has some sought of contractual agreement with the property manager which i think he is absolutely wrong.
I find it difficult to describe him as a tenant because am aware he has no lease contract agreement because he came in through the back door. I also find it very difficult to classify him as a subtenant, licensee or a squatter based on the fact that he was never introduced to the property owner or the manager by the principal tenant.
This tenant made some series of allegations against the property manager and one of the co-tenants at the Human Right Outfit claiming he is a yearly tenant who must have or deserve to be given at least six months notice to quit his apartment according to law guiding tenancy in the State.
It was at this point i discovered that tenant has no clue or any idea about the Laws that guide and regulate tenancy in the State. He Knew nothing on the grounds for taking possession of property from defaulting occupiers.
My observations inspired this article i find necessary and very important to write in order to explain or discuss one of the two major eviction cases an investor, a property owner, property manager or a tenant may find themselves in court dealing with.
The two major eviction cases are the Non payment eviction case and the Holdover eviction case but because of the purpose of this article i will only discuss the holdover eviction case which i know for sure that it is somewhat complex and complicated to handle.
If you have no clue of what to do or what to expect in court when you are handed a holdover eviction notice by your property manager or a court warrant execution officers such as a bailiff, sheriff or a marshall.
I would take my time to walk you arm in arm through how to deal with or handle a holdover eviction notice or case as the case may be. I will let you into some of the smartest steps you can take in order to tactfully tackle a holdover eviction case.
I must acknowledge that this type of eviction case may not in anyway be new to some and also it is a fact that a lot of investors, property owners, managers and tenants have issues or problems dealing with holdover eviction case.
In addition, many occupiers may at some point of their tenancy receive eviction notice to surrender their apartment on a given date from their property owner or property manager and wondered why or what must have necessitated the move to evict them especially when they have never defaulted on rent payment. If any tenant receives such eviction notice in this circumstances it is known as a Holdover Eviction Notice.
Holdover eviction case is usually bought to court by the property owner or the property manager representing them, it is filed against their tenants in order to evict them for reasons other than non payment of rent.
First of all, If any tenant needs to deal with a holdover eviction notice or case, i suggest you seek legal advice or support as soon as you receive a holdover petition because as i have rightly mentioned earlier this type of eviction case is a bit demanding and difficult to tackle all alone especially when you don’t know anything about the tenancy law. Be wary holdover eviction case is complex and complicated.
Basically, holdover cases begins with some set of notices which must be received in specific ways. Besides it is also worthy of note that the grounds for commencing a holdover eviction case are the reasons a property owner or his manager give the court.
They state the reasons and why they want the tenant evicted from the property. These reasons are usually listed in the holdover petition that is sent to the tenant which may include the following :
The property owner no longer want the tenant in his building because the tenant is a month to month tenant, simply put the tenant has no lease contract agreement with the property owner or his representative.
Another reason could be the property owner want the tenant to surrender the apartment because the tenant’s lease has expired and not entitled to a lease renewal.
Also if a tenant is a licensee or a squatter who came into the premises without the permission of the property owner or the principal tenant which the property owner is not happy or satisfied with could also be a good reason to proceed with a holdover eviction case.
Moreover, the most common holdover eviction case arises if a tenant or occupier violates substantial obligation of the lease terms or if there exist an allegation or a report by co-tenants that the tenant or his /her guests or family member is creating a public nuisance or are involved in criminal or immoral activities. If there are verifiable proof of this allegations, it is a good reason to start a holdover eviction case.
In addition to the above, If the property manager or the owner is repeatedly and delibrately denied access to the apartment at reasonable hours to make repairs as stipulated by the law of the state guiding and regulating tenancy. This is a violation of the lease contract agreement and can also lead to a holdover eviction case.
I would love to delve into holdover eviction case process in order to shed more light on this complicated eviction case for easy understanding of the whole concept of holdover eviction case.
The property owner or the property manager begins a holdover case by giving a ten day notice to quit to a licensee or a squatter and usually a thirty day termination notice to a month to month tenant which i think you must have known now that they are tenants without a lease contract agreement.
This notice sent by any of these people will inform the tenant of the reason for the holdover eviction. If the property owner ensures delivery of the notice in accordance to the law of the State guiding such matter he /she can or may proceed with a holdover eviction case against the tenant after the time stipulated time on the notice elapsed.
The property owner or the manager must serve the tenant with notice and holdover petition when the tenant’s lease expires if he is considering proceeding with a holdover eviction case against the tenant. This is best when the property owner has not collected any further rent from the tenant which enables him/her to serve a holdover petition on the tenant without given any prior notice.
Furthermore, If the reason for the holdover case is violation of the lease contract agreement, causing nuisance, involved in immoral or criminal activities. The property manager must first send a notice to cure to the tenant but if the problem or problems is or are not fixed by the tenant, then the property manager or owner must serve the tenant with a notice to terminate the lease before starting the holdover eviction case.
It is also of importance to stress that holdover eviction case court papers must be served properly on the tenant and in accordance with the tenancy laws of the State. This papers are usually served by mail, hand delivery, handed to an adult who lives or work in the tenant’s home, taped or slid under the tenant’s door by someone who is not part of the case and who must be over eighteen years of age.
If any tenant receives a holdover petition, he/she must carefully read the petition to get wind of the reasons why the property owner or manager wants to evict him /her. The notice of petition will surely state the time, date and the room number for the court appearance, If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction case in court.
This is the part tenants or occupiers and even property owners and managers should take time to study so that no one will be infringing on anyone’s rights or obligation. This part shows some the defenses a tenant may have in a holdover eviction case.
If a tenant decide to fight a holdover eviction case in court, he /she must first dispute the property owner or his representative’s claims in court and give good reasons inform of a defense stating why the judge should not order his /her eviction from the apartment.
The tenant must notify the clerk of the court of all defenses that apply to the holdover case when answering the petition. Here are some of the common defenses in a holdover eviction case as it applies to the apartment in question, services provided by the property owner, how the court papers were delivered and parties involved.
A tenant can truly and honestly have a good defense if he/she believes that the property owner or his representative started a holdover eviction case against him/her because of the complaints made about the condition of the apartment or building and tried to enforce certain rights as a tenant.
This could be termed to be a retaliatory eviction and if the judge accept the tenant’s retaliatory eviction defense, the holdover case may be thrown out and the tenant may be given time to surrender the apartment.
Also the property owner or the manager’s claims of violation of the lease contract agreement can be disputed provided the tenant or occupier can present evidence showing that no terms on the lease has been violated.
Another holdover eviction defense available to tenants is based on how court papers are delivered or how they were served. The failure of the property owner or his representative to follow proper court procedure in delivery of court papers, simply put if the court papers were not properly served on the tenant, If the tenant’s name is not in the document or not properly spelt or if the company or person that brought the holdover case against the tenant is not the owner of the property or his representative.The tenant may have a good defense on that.
It must be noted that during holdover eviction case while the property owner cannot collect rent from the tenant, the judge usually ask the tenant to pay a reasonable amount in rental value of the apartment as Use and Occupancy.
This is usually the agreed rental amount the tenant was required to pay before the expiration of the tenancy. In a holdover eviction case, property owners have the right to ask the court to grant them Use and Occupancy to cover for losses incurred as a result of the case.
In holdover eviction case court hearing, the property owner’s lawyer or the judge’s assistance may talk the tenant into settling the case by negotiation. The possible for a tenant who has no lease contract agreement or whose lease has expired and now pays on monthly basis.
The tenant might agree to vacate the apartment by a certain date and enjoy the benefits of not paying Use and Occupancy if the property manager or owner agrees to this settlement arrangement or agreement written up as stipulating.
I love to emphasize here the importance and why it is reasonable and makes a lot of sense if tenants abide by their stipulation or settlement agreement signed in court but if the tenant fail to surrender the apartment on the agreed upon date, they must be ready and prepared to pay Use and Occupancy.
I must also let you understand that stipulation will never be forced on any of the parties involved in a holdover eviction case, If parties are not clear or unsure of the implications and consequencies the stipulation might have, they can have the judge or judge’s assistance explain the stipulation to them and it is appropriate for parties to ask questions about the stipulation before appending their signatures.
If parties have stipulation signed by the judge, it simply means that the mutually accepted settlement agreement is binding and can be enforced in the court of law. The parties involved in the holdover eviction case are given a copy each of the signed stipulation.
However, If the tenant can’t come to an agreement with the property owner or his representative or solicitor, the case would be refered to a trial court and probably before another judge. At the trial the judge shall officially decide and give judgment of possession for the apartment to the property owner provided the he/she was able to prove, present convincing evidences to the judge.
Any tenant who request a trial must make sure he/she brings all evidences, documents or wittness needed to prove his/her defense in court. The judge will make a decision after listening to both parties and the judgment will be mailed to both parties involved in the holdover eviction case.
If eventually the judgment favours the owner, it will contain a date by which the tenant must vacate the apartment and if the tenant is lucky the court may give up to six months to surrender the apartment.
Judges consider many factors before giving judgment, they determine the exact reasons for the holdover eviction case and they are always skeptical about the common method property owners use in chasing out tenants or possessing their property which is owner’s occupancy.
As i have mentioned earlier, during this period the tenant may have to pay Use and Occupancy. If the tenant refuses or fails to make payments he/she may be evicted.
Nevertheless, the tenant may file an Order To Show Cause (OSC) to request more time if he/she is unable to surrender the apartment on or before the stipulation date or as ordered by the judge.
Be that as it may, the court can only give six months to move out and for this reason tenants in or dealing with a holdover eviction case are strongly advised to keep record of their effort to find a new apartment and put details of their search in the Order To Show Cause (OSC).
In conclussion, getting more time in court will be a laborious process and extremly hard to come by for tenants evicted for creating nuisance in the building or involved in immoral or criminal activities.
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