The owner and occupiers of the property are liable for the environmental sanitation of their premises, and it is not an excuse that another person caused the defect in the environmental sanitation. The Lagos State laws impose liabilities for causing pollution or contamination and penalties for non-compliance by owners of buildings.
The extant law on liabilities of property owners for environmental protection and management is the Environmental Management and Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017 and Lagos State Parks and Garden Agency Law State 2019. These laws aim to ensure the protection, management, and sustainable development of the environment in Lagos State and for connected purposes.
The overall objectives of the laws are to provide a clean, safe, and healthy environment for all residents of Lagos states. Also, to enable Nigerian Citizens access to public amenities or segments of the setting for various purposes.[i]
The Environmental Management and Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017 provide for the duties of occupiers and owners of property for it to ensure the achievement of its aims and objectives. The land owner shares some of these duties with the occupier, while some tasks are exclusively for the owner.
We shall in this article highlight some of the relevant provisions in the Environmental Laws of Lagos State and Lagos State Parks and Garden Agency Law state.
Section 62(11) of Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017 states that the owner or occupier shall pay the prescribed levy for waste collection services as at when due.
The liabilities of the owner and occupier are joint, and the authority can claim from either or both. Therefore, parties are advised to make provisions for those liable to pay a waste collection fee.
Construction of waste
Section 79(3) of the Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State provides for the management of the construction of waste by the owner or occupier of the premises.
The owner shall ensure that all the waste generated on the construction premises is kept on that premises till they are disposed of. The construction should not be accumulated so that it will cause a nuisance, and construction waste blown off the premises should be retrieved and kept back in the premises as fast as possible.
A licensed waste operator may collect construction waste and dispose of or deposit the same at the appropriate recycling facility or any other designated facility.[ii]
Penalty for unlawful waste management
Section 81 prescribes a penalty of N500,000 for unlawful waste management by a corporate entity. Criminal waste Management, in this instance, includes handling waste in a way that creates a significant risk to the environment, dumping waste at any place other than the designated area, and dealing with controlled demolition in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm human health.
One of the duties of the occupier or owner of a property is to provide a covered waste receptacle outside the premises to be used for depositing waste.[iii]
Where land is deemed to be littered by the appropriate authority, the owner will serve an abatement notice to the owner for the litter or refuge to be cleared within a specified time.[iv]
Defense to a breach of environmental law
A defense to an act of environmental pollution is if the show was authorized under any law in force in Nigeria. For example, the discharge of hazardous substances into the air through a Generator or upon Nigeria’s land and waters.
Also, the property owner will not be liable for any offense where a third party’s action causes the environmental sanitation defect if the owner is not contributing to it and makes a quick effort to correct it.
Another defense under the law is that if the environmental sanitation defect were caused solely by a natural disaster or sabotage and as such, the owner or occupier of the property would seek to avoid liability on this basis.
Duty to keep the premises clean
Lastly, Section 112 of Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017 requires the owner to keep the premises clean, mainly the backyard, the courtyard, the front yard, and surrounding gutters and drainages.
Section 21 of Lagos State Parks and Garden Agency Law states that all land owners and occupiers must landscape and beautify all perimeter areas of their properties, and refusal to do so is punishable with N250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) fine.
Owners and occupiers of property should always take the issue of liabilities of property owners under the law very seriously. The environment is everything, and proper environmental sanitation can prevent the outbreak of diseases. As can be seen from the highlight of the various provisions of the environmental laws, the inability to maintain good ecological sanitation may incur heavy penalties under the state’s laws.
[i] S.3 Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017
[ii] S.79(4) Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017
[iii] S.83 Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017
[iv] S. 95 Environmental Management ad Protection Laws of Lagos State 2017
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