LANDLORD AND TENANT – NOTICE TO QUIT – Effect of service of a writ of summons for repossession of a property on an irregular notice to quit


“The justice of this case is very clear. The Appellant has held on to property regarding which it had breached the lease agreement from day one. It had continued to pursue spurious appeals through all hierarchy of Courts to frustrate the judgment of the trial Court delivered on 8/2/2000 about twenty years ago. After all, even if the initial notice to quit was irregular, the minute the writ of summons dated 13/5/1993 for repossession was served on the appellant, it served as adequate notice. The ruse of faulty notice used by tenants to perpetuate possession in a house or property which the landlord had slaved to build and relies on for means of sustenance cannot be sustained in any just society under the guise of adherence to any technical rule. Equity demands that wherever and whenever there is controversy on when or how notice of forfeiture or notice to quit is disputed by the parties, or even where there is irregularity in giving notice to quit, the filing of an action by the landlord to regain possession of the property has to be sufficient notice on the tenant that he is required to yield up possession. I am not saying here that statutory and proper notice to quit should not be given. Whatever form the periodic tenancy is whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly etc., immediately a writ is filed to regain possession, the irregularity of the notice if any is cured. Time to give notice should start to run from the date the writ is served. If for example, a yearly tenant, six months after the writ is served and so on. All the dance drama around the issue of the irregularity of the notice ends. The Court would only be required to settle other issues if any between the parties.” Per HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU, JSC in PILLARS (NIG) LTD v. DESBORDES & ANOR (2021-LCER-40496-SC) (Pp 24 – 26; Paras E – A)

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