A major question that many tenants seek answers to is to know whose responsibility it is to evacuate a septic tank and soak-away pit.
When you pay for new accommodation one of the clauses you will find in your tenancy agreement is the landlord’s and tenants’ responsibilities. For most tenancy agreements, it is spelt out that the landlord owes the tenants a duty to keep the said property in a comfortable, livable, and tenantable state to be enjoyed by the tenants.
The bottom line is that once the tenant takes up possession, the landlord excuses him or her while providing all the necessary facilities promised at the inception of the tenancy without interruption or interference, provided the tenant also honours the covenants listed in the Agreement.
Generally, when it comes to repairs under the Internal Repairing and Insuring lease (IRI) which is common among residential and most commercial properties in Nigeria, the landlord is responsible for external repairs while the tenants take up internal repairs. External repairs are repairs on the outer building components which affect all tenants in the property or directly affect individual tenants but are outside his/her scope of repairs. These include; leaking roofs, collapsed septic tanks and soak-away pits, cracked walls, blocked drainage, broken water pipes, replacement of broken tiles, blocked inspection chambers, landscaping, collapsed or broken fences, staircases, and balconies repairs, etc. These are all the landlord’s repairs.
However, should the damage of any of these components be traced to the tenant either caused by mismanagement, carelessness, or intentional destruction, the tenant will be made to pay for the repairs. But when both the landlord and tenants contribute to the damage, both will share the cost burden irrespective of designated or agreed responsibility.
Damage caused by wear and tear or rough handling such as a spoilt door knob, broken sink tap, broken W/C cover, removed door hinge, broken shower head, and burnt bulb among others are all tenant’s responsibilities except for serviced apartments or short-lets.
Maintenance of the soak-away pit and septic tank is the landlord’s responsibility, these include, reconstruction of the collapsed septic tank, assessing blocked inlets and chambers, change of worn-out pipes to allow ease of passing faeces through the sewerage from the various apartments, etc. The landlord is also duty-bound to replace or recast a new soak-away slab when the existing one becomes weak or shows signs of weakness or uneven settlement.
Moreover, all repairs, taxes, charges, or levies from frequent usage or consumption by tenants such as electricity bills, waste management bills, sanitation levies, etc. become tenants’ responsibility, and of course evacuation of the septic tank and soak-away pits.
When the septic tank or soak-away pit becomes filled, it’s a result of frequent use by tenants (the occupants), hence tenants will bear the cost of evacuating the faeces or wastes. They are expected to make contributions to evacuate the faecal sludge from the septic tank and soak away pit.
The landlord can only be a part of the evacuation if he is a resident in the property or out of willful or freewill donation or augment for a vacant or void apartment (s) in the property as at the date of evacuation.
However, if the tenants contributed a certain sum as a service charge at the commencement or between tenancy periods, the landlord is expected to handle the evacuation of the septic tank/soak-away pit from the purse.