Tenant Sues Landlady For Refusing To Sell Her House To Him

A Lagos State High Court has dismissed a case filed by a tenant, Ademola Onitiju, who sued his landlady for not selling her house to him.

In 2021, Onitiju, a retired air commodore and legal practitioner, took Theodosia Ogunnaike, the landlady of a four-bedroom duplex at Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi, to court for selling the property to another person after his initial negotiation with her.

The 59-year-old tenant, who started residing in the house in December 2015, said the property was first offered to him as first option to purchase but he did not pay for it immediately. Onitiju said he was initially asked to pay N170 million for the property, but he offered to pay N90 million instead, which was rejected by the landlady.

The retired airforce officer said during the renegotiation process, he sold two family properties to enable him to match the purchase price of N135 million which was later requested for. He said he asked for a bank account detail to pay the purchase price, but he was not provided with any until the property was sold out to one Colonel Samuel Dare (rtd).

Onitiju admitted that the defendants did not ask him to sell the two family properties, “but they did by conduct when they insisted on the N135 million purchase price”. He also told the court that he does not have evidence of where the N135 million was lodged.

The tenant asked the court to set aside the sale of the property to the retired colonel.

Ogunnaike, a widow, said the property belongs to her daughter but she was managing it for her. The landlady said Onitiju used to pay his N4.5 million annual rent to her bank account and the rent was not increased during his stay, while they had a cordial relationship.

The landlady said the offer to buy the house was first made to Onitiju, but he did not have money to pay. Then, she terminated the offer made to the retired airforce officer after he made two counter offers of N90 million and N100 million, and the sale of the property was thrown open to the public.

In her ruling on June 20, 2022, Bola Justice Okikiolu-Ighile said Onitiju’s evidence before the court did not support any of the reliefs sought by him, and his case was bereft of facts. She subsequently dismissed the case.

“I find it difficult to grant any of the reliefs sought in the claims (i)-(vii). The claimant shall relinquish possession of the property to the new owners forthwith,” the judge ruled.

Onitiju has, however, appealed against the judgment.

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