Any landlord in Lagos State who collects rent in excess of  one year in advance from a new tenant would be prosecuted by the state government and upon conviction face three years in jail.

This is contained in the new tenancy bill that was passed into law by the State House of Assembly today. The law, which is expected to receive the assent of Governor Babatunde Fashola any moment from now, also stipulates that it is unlawful and criminal for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant, rent in excess of six months in respect of any premises without prejudice to the nature of tenancy.

This means that those who are already tenants are not expected to pay more than six months in advance to their landlord. Hitherto, tenants were compelled to pay for even more than two years in some cases.

The bill places a fine of N100,000 or three years imprisonment on any landlord or new tenant who pays in excess of one year and N100,000 or three months imprisonment for any landlord who fails to issue a receipt to a tenant for payment of rent.

Some of the lawmakers who commented on the law this morning explained that the receipt would enable the authorities to monitor compliance with the law by the landlords. They said they were aware of the dubious activities of some landlords, adding that the new law was amended to take care of those areas.

The law also gives a tenant the privilege to furnish or install accessories within a property to fit his/her taste. The bill was earlier passed by the House and forwarded to Governor Fashola for assent, but the Governor returned it to the House last week with a recommendation that some grey areas in the bill be looked into.

The grey areas include a section of the bill to be explicit on who bears the professional fees incurred at the commencement of tenancy and some other sections that cover the internally generated revenue of the state.

I really do hope this would not bring up a situation were rents would be hiked and cause even more hardship on tenants than what we presently experience. I urge the Lagos State Government to see through the  effective implementation of this bill.