Tenancy is understood
by many in Nigeria to mean a
contract by which the owner of a property otherwise known as the landlord grants exclusive possession of that
property to another person
otherwise known
as the tenant
in exchange for the tenant’s periodic payment of an agreed amount of money otherwise known as rent.
However, tenancy is not
always contractual, and there is not always a periodic payment of an amount of
money. There is tenancy at sufferance whereby a tenant remains in possession of
property at the expiration of rent without the authorization of the landlord. There
is also Kola nut tenancy whereby a tenant is granted possession of property not
because of the rent they paid but because they sought possession through a gift
of Kola nut.
Below I take you
through the types of tenancy in Nigeria.

1. Gratuitous or Rent-Free

As the name
suggests, gratuitous or rent-free tenancy arises where the tenant pays no rent
for being granted possession of property. Both parties, that is the landlord
and tenant rely on mutual confidence and friendship between them.
gratuitous tenant however presents some gift to the landlord in appreciation of
the grant, but this is purely voluntary rather than compulsory.
or Rent-Free Tenancy is usually fraught with eventual unlawful claim of land by
the tenant. This is primarily a symptom of the growing value of land due to
urbanisation. Since the grantees or their descendants do not pay any form of
rent to the grantors, with passage of time and possible demise of witnesses
they tend to claim absolute interest in the land.
overlords on their part usually seek the slightest excuse to evict the
gratuitous tenant.

2. Kola nut Tenancy

Under Kola
nut tenancy, tribute rather than rent is paid. This type of tenancy was
prevalent mostly in Igbo land, in the era preceding this present growth in the
value of land.
In this
type of tenancy, the grantee needs only take with him presents usually in the
form of Kola nuts and Palm wine to the grantor to plead to be granted
possession of property.
grantee’s presents are usually consumed by both parties under a congenial
agreement is reached over what percentage of the yeild of the crops grown on
the property the tenant will present to the landlord yearly.
The tenant
is also expected to make annual acknowledgement of the landlord’s title by
formal present of Kola nuts and Palm wine.

3. Statutory Tenancy

Statutory tenancy
arises when a tenant is granted possession of property by virtue of a provision
of law.
employees living in a government quarters, and villagers moved by the
government from their ancestral homes to a government housing development to
make way for a government project all fall under statutory tenancy.

4. Service Tenancy

Service tenancy
is where the landlord and tenant agree by a contract that the tenant contribute
a certain minimum of service to the landlord to be granted possession of

5. Share Tenancy

Share tenancy
mostly applies to agrarian property. Here the landlord and tenant agree that
the landlord shall have a share of the produce grown on the land granted to the
In share tenancy,
the landlord supplies the land and the crop to be grown on it while the tenant
supplies the labour. The crop the landlord receives at the end of the planting
season is the rent.
While this
type of tenancy may appear out of date, the law still takes notice of it. For
instance, Section 29 of the Recovery of Premises Law of Rivers State made
mention of crop on its take on the issue of rent, which it defines as including
“any part of any crop rendered, or any equivalent given in kind or
in labour, in consideration of which a landlord has permitted any person to use
and occupy any land, house, premises, or other corporeal hereditament.”

6. Cash Tenancy

Cash tenancy
is the commonest type of tenancy in Nigeria these days.
Here, the
landlord grants the tenant possession of property in exchange for a periodic
payment of cash.
tenancy in some parts of Nigeria also takes after a form of Kola nut tenancy.
This is because most landlords compel prospective tenants to get them gifts of
Kola nut and Palm wine even when the tenant 
seeks to be granted possession of property through payment of cash.

7. Tenancy at Will

Tenancy at
will is where the landlord allows the tenant to remain in possession of
property at the expiration of rent usually with no advance understanding as to
the date of termination.

8. Tenancy at Sufferance

Tenancy at
sufferance, otherwise known as holdover tenancy arises in that period after the
expiration of rent when a tenant remains in possession of property without the
authorization of the landlord
Although the
landlord did not authorize that a tenant at sufferance remains in possession of
property at the expiration of rent, he has not demanded that the tenant parks
While this could be considered tresspassing, it legally is not. This is because the tenant at sufferance started off doing the right thing by
entering into a legal agreement with
the landlord to
be granted possession of property, though has overstayed his welcome.
Note that though a
tenant at sufferance has remained in possession of property at the expiration
of rent without the authorization of the landlord, he or she is still entitled
to all the rights of the tenancy until the landlord decides to issue a notice
to quit.

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