Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who spoke at the stakeholders’ meeting on the Review of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State, organized by the Law Reform Commission noted that the modernization of Lagos into a smart city made it imperative that its legislation reflect modern day realities, especially in the provision of shelter.
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REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE AT THE STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING ON TENANCY LAW OF LAGOS STATE ON FRIDAY, 7TH JULY, 2017 AT ADEYEMI-BERO AUDITORIUM.
I am quite elated to deliver the remarks at this Stakeholders’ meeting organized by the Law Reform Commission on the Tenancy Law of Lagos State particularly at this time when it is obvious that the State Government alone cannot achieve the provision of housing for its citizens who must be protected from the extremes of capitalism and investors too who must be encouraged to partner the State in actualizing its housing objective.
His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, has displayed uncommon commitment to enthrone Lagos as the commercial capital of Africa and continuous reformation of property laws is a key aspect of this transformation.
The importance of law in creating a balanced society cannot be overemphasized. If Law is then accorded this noble status, it is important that a society governed by Law and resting on the Rule of Law such as ours should constantly engage in a process of law reform.
In Lagos State, we are not just privileged to have a Law Reform Commission which performs this essential task but one which does so with such profound excellence.
The reform of the Tenancy Law of Lagos State is both timely and relevant. Timely because the conditions that brought about the 2011 intervention have been significantly affected by numerous factors. I have no hesitation on the relevance of the reforms included in the Draft Tenancy Bill. The relevance has of course been enhanced by the very comprehensive consultation process engaged by the Commission before producing the Draft Bill. The continued relevance is also ensured by the Commission’s decision to organize this Stakeholders’ meeting.
There is a saying that- times change and we change with them. Today’s meeting came about due to numerous complaints that have emerged with regards to some of the provisions of the existing law and its general effectiveness. Some of the issues the existing law tried to address in 2011 were the technical and cumbersome procedure involved in the recovery of premises.
It is noteworthy that the Recovery of Premises Law Cap 118 Laws of Lagos State 2003 and the Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises Edict No.6 of 1997 were hounded by issues of jurisdiction, issuance and service of statutory notices, and general delay in disposing tenancy matters which engendered self –help and loss of lives in extreme cases. We moved away from most of these with the 2011 Law but, certain provisions, such as section 1(3), which exempts some areas from the jurisdiction of the law; and section 4 on advance rent payment which makes it unlawful for a landlord to receive more than a year’s rent in advance have not enjoyed maximum compliance.
It is also generally believed that certain provisions in the current Tenancy Law seemingly favour a particular group over others hence the clamour for the review of the law. The feedback from questionnaires received from various quarters reveals that the citizenry is not content with the present state of the Law. Some of the suggestions to be deliberated on, without delving much into the issues of the day, are the need to introduce rules of procedure for recovery of possession to help fast track proceedings and suggestions on the time limit for the disposal of tenancy matters, amongst others.
As a responsible government, we must not turn deaf hears to this call for review. It has become all too common to see the incidents, where angry residents react against what they consider an act of grave injustice. Such intemperate action, while understandable at a basic level, needs to become a thing of the past.
Permit me to say as Lagos is evolving into a Mega City, it must reflect the modern day realities and there is no better way than through its legislation. Like every other piece of legislation, this law requires periodic review in line with the government’s housing policies as its way of dealing with insufficient housing problem due to the fast growing population in the State.
I am optimistic that the Lagos State House of Assembly will graciously ensure the adoption, approval and passage into law, the resolutions that will be inserted in the proposed bill to be prepared by the Commission at the end of this meeting.
I close by asserting with confidence that with the presence of relevant stakeholders, the desired balance will be achieved and the issues addressed.
Itsewaju ipinle Eko lo je wa logun
Adeniji Kazeem Esq.
Honourable Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice
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