GRATIAEN J.—Abdul Hameen «. Sugathada •a
Present: Grattaen J. and K. D. de Silva J.
ABDUX. W. M. N. HAMEEN, Appellant, and H. S. P.SUGATHADASA, Respondent.
8. G. 120—D. C. Colombo, 25,523.
.Bent Restriction Act—Business premises—“Reasonable requirement” of landlord—Section 13 (1).
In a tenancy action, the landlord obtained a decree for Us tenant’s ejectmenton the ground that he “ reasonably required ” the premises in question for hisown business within the meaning of the Bent Restriction Act. It wasestablished that the tenant was already carrying on a business in the premisesand that the effect of the decree against him would be to throw him out ofbusiness altogether and to involve him in very considerable financial loss. If,on the other hand, the statics quo remained, the landlord would only lose theadditional profits which he hoped to make by moving into the premises fromhis present shop.
Held, that, in the circumstances, it would be wholly unreasonable to authorisea decree for ejectment.
^^.PPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Colombo.
H. V. Perera, Q.G., with M. H. Aziz, for the defendant appellant.
H. W. Jayewardene, with D. R. P. Goonetilleke, for the plaintiffrespondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
July 23, 1953. Gkatiaen J.—-
This is a tenancy action in respect of premises No. 85, Chatham Street,Fort, to which the provisions of the Rent Restriction Act apply. Thelandlord obtained a decree for his tenant’s ejectment on the ground thathe “ reasonably required ” the premises for his own business within themeaning of the Act, but the learned Judge directed that, in order tomitigate the consequential hardships which the tenant would suffer, theexecution of the writ should be postponed for a period of 18 months.
The tenant’s appeal was based on the contention that, upon the facts asfound by the learned Judge, the landlord’s requirement of the premiseswas wholly unreasonable inter partes. While I appreciate the limits ofthe jurisdiction of an appellate tribunal in litigation of this kind—videGoplans v. King 1 and Cresswell v. Hodgson 2—I have come to the con-clusion that it is our duty to set aside the judgment in the presen I ;ase.
(1947) 2 A. E. R. 393.2 (1951) 2 K. B. 92.
GRATIAEN J.—Abdul Hameen v. Suga'hadasa
Indeed, the very circumstance that the learned Judge was unwilling tointerfere with the status quo for-as long a period as 18 months indicatesstrongly to my mind that the landlord’s present requirement wasconsidered to lack reasonableness at the present time.
The landlord has since 1929 been carrying on a well-established businessin the sale of ebony elephants in a shop situated in Canal Row, Fort.TTia customers are, in the main, tourist passengers, and he complains thatin recent years his business has declined owing to a variety of unsatis-factory features connected with the situation of his present shop. Heasserted that his profits would appreciate substantially if he could transferthe business to Chatham Street. The learned Judge took the view thathe had “ rather exaggerated the loss to his business during recent years ”and that, generally speaking, “ the conditions under which he carried onthe business before 1944 and those during the last 4 years could not differvery much ”. The final conclusion on this part of the case was that “ theplaintiff has a reasonably prosperous business (in his present shop) but,if he has more suitable premises (in Chatham Street) the business wouldprosper still more ”. In other words, the landlord genuinely desiresto occupy the premises in order to gain some pecuniary advantage forhimself, and is therefore entitled to succeed in the action provided alsothat his requirement is “ reasonable ” having regard to the effect whicha decree for ejectment would have on his tenant.
Let us now consider the position of the tenant. He was until June 1951a co-owner of the premises (the landlord himself being a substantialshareholder) and had in 1949 purchased the share of another co-owner,together with the goodwill of a profitable hotel business, which he hascarried on in the premises ever since. In June 1951 the premises wereput up for sale under the Partition Ordinance and were purchased by thelandlord. Thereafter the tenant ceased to be a co-owner in occupationand became instead a contractual tenant under the landlord at a rentalof Rs. 306 per mensem. Three months later this action was instituted.
It is common ground that, even if the tenant were ejected from thepremises at a later date, there would be no reasonable prospect of hisfinding other suitable accommodation in the locality in which he couldcontinue his hotel business. In the result, the effect of a decree for hisejectment would be to throw him out of business altogether, and to involvehim in very considerable financial loss. If, on the other hand, the status quoremains, the plaintiff can continue to sell his ebony elephants as he didbefore, and will continue to receive a fair rental for his property inChatham Street, losing only the additional profits which he hopes to makeby moving into them himself. Tested in this way, it would be whollyunreasonable to authorise a decree for ejectment. I would therefore allowthe appeal and dismiss the plaintiff’s action with costs-in both Courts.
K. D. de Silva J.—I agree.
ABDUL W. M. N. HAMEEN, Appellant, and H. S. P. SUGATHADASA, Respondent