The Rent Obligation Of Any Tenant

Every tenant must pay rent. In fact that is what empowers you to be called a tenant. Rent is the amount of money (also called consideration) which is paid to be allowed the use of an apartment or building space. The unit of accommodation or space should be clear to the parties in question.

In other words, do not encourage a situation that leads you to assume you have taken a whole block when the landlord has gone with the impression that the rent you paid only covers a single flat in the whole block.
Rent must be a definite amount of money covering a specific period of time. Without these qualities the issue of who is responsible for paying these sums called rent which is a periodic payment (that is to say becomes due from one period to another) is not made clear and the question rent obligation does not arise.
Ab initio there is no tenancy.

To illustrate this, imagine that Alhaji Bako who has just completed a block of four flats in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, gave you the use of one of the flats and asked you to pay five hundred thousand naira. All the other flats were left vacant and you observe that you are the only occupant of entire building. For some reason Alhaji Bako has been held down in Germany for over two years on health grounds and has not returned. Family pressure from your siblings needing accommodation forces you to allow them the use of all the flats remaining.
Incidentally the property owner just look half a million naira from you intended for one year but without an agreement, neither was the period discussed. If in the third year the landlord turns up, be sure he is going to be making a lot of demands. He would demand rent arrears for your flat and clarification to know why you gave out the other flat without his consent or due rent payable (after all. the man is no relation of yours and has no special interest). Most tenants who observe the loopholes in this transaction would take advantage of the knowledge of the issues that were not settled and the ensuring skirmish will result in the first occupant and his siblings being thrown out.
An extreme illustration? No, these things happen!
Rent must be an agreed sum by parties.

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Rent must be for a definite period of time. It must lapse someday, say 1st June 2005 to 31st May 2007.

Rent must be for specified space or area in the building, say a 3-bedroom flat or 4-bedroom bungalow. In offices or commercial buildings the space may be per floor or reduced to unit measurement – per square metre / foot.

Rent should be paid as and when due. Ideally rent must not be late. This is the point of departure in most tenancies because rent is almost always late and cause friction. Since the date that rent falls due is known to the tenant and it is his obligation to pay the landlord or his agents, they do not understand why the money is not ready. Most tenants on the other hand are jostling under the pressure of various things to spend money on in the system and eventually when the rent is paid the agents almost had to snatch it from his hands or else by the next day he would have gone to use the same money to pay his children’s school fees or deposit for a set of badly needed automobile tyres.

The way to help the issue of rent payment in a disciplined way is to see rent as that portion of your salary or income that goes for your housing consumption. If you do not, you will mingle this up against other expenses which is not good. A good look at the subject will prove in a moment that everybody throughout life must pay for housing consumption even when you have your own house and you are the landlord (debt-free!). the moment you realize this, it is easier to adjust to the fact that a segment of your income has to go to housing every month or year. No matter your status (landlord or tenant)

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Abroad, rent is easier to collect because everybody now either issues post-dated cheques monthly, quarterly or however they have agreed or sets up direct debit arrangement with the bank (oh, it makes the agent’s life much easier!). Automatically at the agreed time the money drops and the tenant’s duty is fulfilled.
This method is very widely practiced in the UK and USA and what the tenant has done is to concede that portion of his wages that belongs to housing immediately even before the money gets his hands. Good thinking, like the Japanese would say.

Everybody stay somewhere and it is never entirely free. Even owner-occupiers have to spend money monthly on house maintenance and repairs which comes out of their salary or income since the house in which they live does not generate income/rent. What about people that pay mortgage? That monthly repayment on the mortgage which is designed to last 25 years is the cost of their housing consumption and it must be paid. Failure to pay is the reason why people lose their houses.

It was this lack of basic understanding that caused people to lose their properties to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria when in the seventies they took mortgages which they neglected to service thinking the money was their share of the national cake. Well, ask them what happened in the eighties and nineties when most of these houses were virtually auctioned off to recover loans that had become bogus due to compounding and rising interest calculations.

Now if you have not yet built your own house or taken a mortgage to either buy one or build, the cost of tour housing is the rent paid to the landlord. For God’s sake, give it priority! Remember man’s three most basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. Flashy cars, plasma TV, jewellery, and every other thing follow after. So, let us face it, a tenant must pay rent and it is better in the long run to build a reputation of paying promptly. What most people do not realize is that the same discipline you apply to rent payment is what you need to save or conserve money to start building your own house.

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If you pay annually (once a year) start saving up your rent on time to avoid a huge outgoing at the same time. Put it in a savings account you cannot reach easily or set up a different cooperative that will meet your target.
Never use rent payment as a protest tool. You will become disorganised and unable to cope with the accumulated debt. The rule is “obey before complaint”. Even if there are problems in the house, pay your rent with a stern demand that things be put right. Better still, attempt or suggest that you fix those things yourself and come to an agreement of how much you should deduct from your rent for such repairs or arrears of water/electricity bill and pay the balance.

Conversely do not spend rents to fix problems in your apartment on your own and later inform the agent or landlord.
Most people will not honour your position. They will insist you did not have their authority and ask you still pay the full rent.
Always plan ahead of your rent anniversary. Remember you owe the landlord an obligation to pay rent and if you want peace always pay. If you cannot pay temporarily, there are other ways to deal with it instead of running around in circles because for some inexplicable reasons the landlord is patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting for you!


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