You’ve searched for, and found, an apartment that suits most of your needs. So, the next step is to meet with your landlord. In this first meeting you'll ask questions, negotiate a more generous curfew, or even ask for specific repairs. If your initial meeting goes smoothly, there will be another one. This time, to sign the tenancy agreement.

The tenancy agreement is a legal, binding document, prepared by a property lawyer. It covers the rights of the tenant and landlord, and their obligations to each other. The contract also states the cost of each rental fee, the conditions for termination, and other terms.

The goal of this article is to make sure you understand your tenancy agreement. That's why, I’ve split the entire document into three segments: the introduction, the terms, and the conclusion. And I’ll give simple explanations for each.

Also, to give you a fair idea of what this document looks like, you’ll find a sample of a standard tenancy agreement in Lagos, at the end of this article. Welcome to class.

The Introduction

The first section in the introduction segment covers the date you’ll fill and sign the document. Also, the names and addresses of each party. The form filler (usually the house agent) is to fill in these details.

The next section is for the property details. Here, the form filler has to input the address of the rented property and describe the apartment and any extra facilities.

The Terms

The foremost section of the terms segment covers the fees you need to pay and what is you’re paying for. That includes the rent, legal fee, caution fee, and agency fee. We’ve provided a full breakdown of the fees you will pay when getting an apartment in Lagos. If your rent covers a stay of one year or more, this section will state this.

Second, there’s the covenant section where both parties make promises to each other. The document provides a list of the commitments the tenant makes to the landlord. Among other issues, these agreements cover the pet policy, subletting, levying, and modifications. It also provides a list of the commitments made by the landlord to the tenant. Those include maintenance, peaceful occupancy, and more.

The last section of the tenancy agreement covers the termination terms. These terms include the length of notice that the landlord or tenant has to give if they want to cancel the rental agreement.

The Conclusion

This segment is where each party and their witnesses put down their names and signatures. It requires your name and signature, the landlord’s, and those of two witnesses. The witnesses also have to provide their addresses and occupations.

Before signing the document, read through the tenancy agreement. Pay special attention to the covenants section and ensure that you agree with all the terms. Make two copies of the filled form, which you and the landlord have to sign.

One signed copy is yours to keep, while the landlord keeps the other. Right after, you can pay the rental fees stipulated in the document. Don’t forget to collect a rent receipt from your landlord, as a proof of payment.

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(The addresses, characters, and events depicted in the attached document are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living, zombified or dead, or to actual addresses, is purely coincidental.)