TENANT TALES MY CO-TENTANT IS MY LANDLORD... BUT HER HUSBAND DOES NOT KNOW
It was the address of the property that rst caught my eye. The address was mine. I was renting an apartment in a block of ats with that address. Then I saw her name registered on the ownership documents of the property. It did not make sense. The name I saw was that of the wife of my next-door neighbour. A very nice couple with three lovely children. How can her name be on the property documents. They were renting just like me.
I mentioned the matter to the senior colleague who was with me at the Lagos State Government Land Office. As a lawyer in a law form, I sometimes had to go there to deal with client’s issues and on this occasion, a senior colleague was there with me. He laughed. He explained that it was very possible that the woman owns the property, and the husband does not know. No way. My neighbours were a ‘lovey dovey’ couple who seemed to do everything together. My cynical senior colleague said that that type of relationship was the most suspicious and that I should carry out my investigations quietly.
On my way back from the Land Office, I stopped by at the Estate Agent’s office and was lucky to meet the lady who oversaw the rentals and facilities of the property. Aer some pleasantries, I asked as casually as I could, who the owner of the property was. On the Tenancy Agreement that I signed, a company was stated to be the landlord.
She was puzzled - “Come to think of it. I have never met any of the representatives of the company. I will ask my Boss”
Aer a week, I asked the lady estate agent if she had found out who the real owner was. She said she had asked but her Boss had shut her up and told her to mind her business. Very curious
I decided to smoke out my neighbour. I went over to their place on the pretext of a courtesy visit. Aer a while, and keeping a close eye on the wife, I told them a curious story of a ‘wicked’ wife who had landed property but did not reveal this fact to her husband. In fact, this ctious woman had managed to get the husband to rent the house and was getting rent from the husband. While her husband was scandalised by the story and kept heaping abuse on the woman in the story, his wife was looking very shocked.
‘This is not our portion darling” the husband put his arm around his wife. She mumbled an answer in affirmation, but her eyes never le mine. Was there a silent plea in them begging me not to reveal her secret?
I did not have long to wait. A few hours aer I le them, the wife called me on my mobile phone. She went straight to pleading with me. Her husband was very bad with money, she said. If he knew that they owned property, he’d sell it in a jiffy and spend the proceeds on irrelevant things. She had been able to save up and build the property as an insurance for her and her children. She was using the rent she extracted from him to take care of the house and the children. Her husband will marry another woman if he had spare money. She went on and on. Aer a while, I calmed her down and told her that her secret was safe with me. She thanked me profusely and prayed for me.
The next day, I went to the office of the Estate Agent and asked the lady that I wanted to see the Boss. Aer some time, I was ushered in. Aer pleasantries, I told him that I came to see him because my rent was too high. He smiled and started explaining that the rent was reasonable. I cut him off and said that indeed based on all the past rents I had ‘overpaid’ I should not pay rent for the next three years. He was abbergasted. Before he could collect himself to answer me, I suggested that he should call the landlord and pass on my offer.
He realised what I had discovered. He excused himself and le the office for a few minutes. When he came back, he started pleading with me not to take advantage of the poor woman. I
smiled and passed on a Tenancy Agreement which had all the terms that would give me free accommodation for the next three years.
“Please have that documents signed by close of business today or I will have a heart-to-heart talk with my neighbour when I get back from work” I le his office.
Don’t judge me. I am not the one hiding secrets from my spouse.
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