Generally, a lease is a grant of the exclusive possession of a property to last for a term of years. The person who gives the possession or use of a property is called the landlord while the person who receives or pays money/rent for the possession or use of a property is called the tenant and the process is usually called tenancy agreement.
Now, for such lease to be legally binding at law, the Law gives some requirements which must be met, failure to meet same makes the lease faulty, defective and void ab initio i.e. from the beginning.
CERTAINTY OF TIME: Where there is a lease, such lease must contain a defined time for such lease. The lease must have a certain beginning and a certain end. In the case of UBA v. TEJUMOLA & SONS, it was stated by the courts that a lease must be granted for a certain time.
For a lease to be valid it must be for a definite or fixed period with a fixed or ascertainable date of commencement; it cannot run forever. It must have a certain beginning and a certain end e.g weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly else, such lease would be void.
In the case of LACE v. CHANTLER where a sublease of furnished premises was granted for the duration of the war, it was held that it was not possible to create a lease for the duration of the war of uncertainty of term because the duration of the war itself was an uncertain event.
CERTAINTY OF PARTIES: Where there is a lease, the parties to such lease must be known. There must be a lessor who is capable of creating a lease and a lessee who is capable of taking. The demised parties must also be juristic persons e.g natural persons, registered company, corporation or body created by statute or registered trustees of an association. Where the parties to a lease are not ascertainable, the lease becomes null and void.
CERTAINTY OF PROPERTY: This is where many people fail in the case of a lease. Many go ahead to create a lease without first knowing whether or not the property which they are about to take exist. It should be known that where there would be lease of a property, such property must be ascertainable and described with precision.
Everything about the property is to be taken into consideration – the place of the property, the address, its location. In the case of SCARFE v. ADAMS it was reached that the property to be leased must be in existence at the material time the lease was been contracted else such lease would go to nothing and be void before the law.
CERTAINTY OF TERMS: Where there is a lease, such lease agreement must spell out the terms and tenors upon which the lease is built. It should contain the covenants which are to guide the tenant and the landlord during the period of the lease. It could be covenant by the tenant to always pay rent, to not sublease or assign the premises and on the part of the landlord, to grant quiet enjoyment to the tenant. All of these cannot be implied and must be expressly spelt out.
EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION: In the practical aspect, the lessee/tenant must acquire the right of exclusive possession. ONITIRI v. AYINDE
Exclusive possession connotes occupation or physical control of land either personally or through an agent, proxy or servant. EKPAN v. UYO The tenant must have full control of the premises he is leasing and not to be disturbed by a third party. All of the above must be met before a lease can come to place.
It should be noted that where a lease or tenancy is procured by fraud, intended for purpose which is unlawful or against public policy, such tenancy or lease is void. This is the position of the court in the case of BARTON v. FITZGERALD Money paid or other payments made in connection with such tenancy are not recoverable.
The local man would say “shine your eyes” Again. However, where the landlord is mistaken as to identity of the tenant and the circumstances are such that the person of the tenant is an important factor, the tenancy will be void. See the case of CUNDY v. LINDSAY. Lastly, where a party to an agreement for a lease is induced to make the agreement by misrepresentation (whether or not innocent) the party so induced may rescind the agreement. This is the position of the court in the case of ANGEL v. JAY.
Any lease or tenancy agreement or contract which lacks in the above requirements is a faulty lease contract and it can have various consequences for both the landlord and the tenant, depending on the nature of the fault. Here are some possible consequences of a faulty lease:
Ambiguity in terms: If the lease contract contains ambiguous or unclear terms, it can lead to disagreements between the landlord and tenant. For example, if the contract does not clearly specify the responsibilities of each party, such as who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, it can create confusion and disputes.
Legal disputes: If the lease contract is faulty in a way that violates the law, such as by including prohibited clauses or not adhering to legal requirements, it can lead to legal disputes between the landlord and tenant. This can result in costly legal fees and potential penalties for the landlord.
Financial losses: A faulty lease contract can also result in financial losses for the landlord or tenant. For example, if the contract does not accurately reflect the rent or deposit amounts agreed upon, it can result in one party paying more or less than they intended.
In all, It can not be overemphasized that it is essential to ensure that lease contracts are well-written, clear, and legally compliant to avoid potential consequences for both parties involved.
LEGALJOE who is also JOSEPH ALIU is a Law undergraduate, OOU chapter and can be reached via; 09131704196, 09085773212, firstname.lastname@example.org. Come back here next sunday.