The ruse of faulty notice used by tenants to perpetuate possession in a house or property which the land lord 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 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, their regularity 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.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Pillars v. William (2021)

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Errington v. Errington and Anor. (1952) 1 All E.R. 149. At page 154 line D. Denning, L.J. stated that:- “The difference between a tenancy and a licence is, therefore, that in a tenancy an interest passes in the land, whereas in a licence it does not. In distinguishing between them, a crucial test has sometimes been supposed to be whether the occupier has exclusive possession or not. If he was let into exclusive possession, he was said be a tenant, albeit only a tenant at will: See Doe D. Tomes v. Chamberlain (4), Lynes v. Snaith (2); whereas if he had not exclusive possession he was only a licensee; Peakin v. Peakin (5) This test has, however, often given rise to misgivings because it may not correspond to realities.” And at p. 155 Denning went further to state:- “The result of all these cases is that, although a person who is let into exclusive possession is, prima facie, to be considered to be a tenant, nevertheless he will not be held to be so if the circumstances negative any intention to create a tenancy. Words alone may not suffice. Parties cannot turn a tenancy into a licence merely by calling it one. But if the circumstances and the conduct of the parties show that all that was intended was that the occupier should be granted a personal privilege with no interest in the land, he will be held only to be a licensee.”

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Hence when the initial occupation of premises is lawful, the occupier, even if holding over becomes a protected tenant qua the landlord. This is a status arising from a statute creating the tenancy. The difficulty arises when the contractual tenant who enters into possession lawfully continues at the expiration of the contract and against the wish of the owner of the premises without any contract. This is the situation described as tenant-at-will at common law. Under the 1976 Rent Edict, as soon as the contractual tenancy expires, the tenant, who becomes so by operation of law becomes a statutory tenant. He occupies the property as a tenant, and enjoys the restrictions against recovery imposed by the Edict. He enjoys protection and security of tenure and is at par with the contractual tenant. Although the tenant is protected from eviction except in accordance with the law, he is liable to pay for his occupation and use of the property.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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Let us first examine the meaning of the term “premises”. From the many learned legal works cited to us by appellant’s counsel Corpus Juris Secondum (supra), Jowitts Dictionary of English Law( supra) and Strouds Judicial Dictionary of English Law (supra), it appears that the term premises’ has a fluid or flexible meaning without a static connotation. It sometimes means bare land and sometimes land with buildings thereon, its meaning at any given. time would be determined according to what the parties so decide, as may be ascertained from the document executed by the parties. On the other hand, from the authorities cited by the respondents Ponsford v. H.M.S. Aerosols, Doe d. Hemming v. Willetes (supra), Cuff v. J & F Store Property Co. Ltd (supra) and Turner v. York Motors Property Ltd the term premises’ under the Recovery of Premises Law, Cap 118, Law of Lagos States, is used in the two senses of buildings with its grounds or appurtenances or simply as land without any building thereon. It may be noted that what can be distilled from the authorities of decided cases cited to us, including a welter of definitions in lexicons is that the term premises’ may connote bare land or the land with the buildings thereon, depending on what the parties intend it to connote, having regard to the circumstances of the case. In the final analysis, there is no doubt whatsoever that the meaning or the definition of the term “premises” is fraught with difficulties and whether it is intended to convey a precise or specific meaning will continue to exercise the courts because the situation in each case will unquestionably depend on the facts of the case thereof.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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Rent is paid as an acknowledgment of tenancy, and it shall be paid to the landlord or his agent in person or otherwise as directed by the landlord, when due depending on the terms of the tenancy, which in this case is monthly. By virtue of section 77(1) – Landlord and Tenants Law rent becomes due in the morning of the day appointed by the parties to a tenancy for payment thereof, if no specific day is appointed, rent becomes due on the last day of the period for which it is payable, so that annual rent payable annually becomes due on the last day of the year in respect of which it is payable, rent payable monthly becomes due on the last day of the month and so on.

– ADEKEYE JCA. Anyafulu v. Agazie (2005)

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The law is that any such letter of instruction to the solicitor must be issued before the Notice to Quit is issued by the Solicitor otherwise the solicitor has no authority to act. Any notice to quit or notice of intention to apply to recover possession issued by any such solicitor before the letter of instruction is null and void and of no effect. – Ubaezonu JCA. Coker v. Adetayo (1992)

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Why must the seven landlords who were the plaintiffs in the case need the occupation of the single ground floor flat before they can recover possession of the flat. If that is the law, it is a law devoid of human face, human reason and common sense. I shall not project such a law.

– Ubaezonu JCA. Coker v. Adetayo (1992)

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