GBATIAE1ST J.—Chettinad Corporation Ltd. v. Zaneeh
1953Present : Gratiaen J. and K. D. de Silva J.CHETTINAD CORPORATION LTD., Appellant,and A. M. M. ZANEEK, Respondent
S. G. 165-—D. C. Colombo, 379Z
Rent Restriction A.ct—Notarial lease—Leasee in arrears of rent—Right of lessor to ejectlessee—Termination of lease—Condition precedent.
A lessor cannot sue his lessee for ejectment under the Bent Kestriction Actfor being in default of rent unless he can first establish the termination of thecontract of lease either by due notice or by effluxion of time.
,/^JPPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Colombo.
H. V. Perera, Q.C., with P. Navaratnarajah, for the defendant appellant.
E. B. Wikramanayake, Q.C., with N. Samarakoon, for the plaintiffrespondent.
Gwr. adv. vult.
October 15, 1953. Gratiaen J.—
A person named Abdul Majeed died on 20th March, 1946, leaving a lastwill and testament whereby he appointed S. C. Samuel to be the executorof his estate, and devised, inter alia, the property which is the subjectmatter of this action to the plaintiff and two others.
S. C. Samuel, in the exercise of the powers vested in him as executor,leased the property to the defendant Company under the terms of anotarially attested indenture of lease P 1 dated 4th May, 1949. Thestipulated rental was Rs. 500 per mensem and the lease was, subject tocertain conditions, to continue until 31st May, 1952. The leased propertywas protected by the provisions of the Rent Restriction Act, No. 29 of1948.
On 12th June, 1950, Samuel as executor purported to convey theproperty to the plaintiff and his co-devisees, but it is clear law that thetitle to the property had already passed to them automatically uponAbdul Majeed’s death, subject of course to the special powers vested inthe executor for purposes of administration.
On 8th November, 1951, Samuel wrote to the defendant Companydirecting them to pay all future lease rent under the indenture PI to theplaintiff, and this the Company agreed to do. In. these circumstances theplaintiff was the “ person entitled to receive the rent ” to the exclusionof Samuel, and therefore became the “ landlord ” of the premises withinthe meaning of Section 27 of the Rent Restriction Act. On 11thJanuary, 1952, he gave notice to the Company that he would require theproperty to b$ returned to him on the expiry of the lease, namely on 31stMay, 1952.
Sivaguru v. Janahi
I shall assume for the purposes of this appeal (although I do not decide)that the plaintiff had “ stepped into the shoes ” of Samuel, the originallessor, for all purposes connected with the enforcement of the Company’scontractual obligations under the indenture of lease PI. Upon thisassumption, as the Company had defaulted in the payment of rent to thesubstituted contractual lessor, he was entitled to claim the ejectment ofthe lessee after the termination of the lessee's rights of occupation under thelease. But this is precisely what the plaintiff did not do. Instead, on21st.May, 1952—i.e., 10 days before the expiry of his notice dated 11thJanuary, 1952—he sued the Company (a) for arrears of rent, (6) for anorder declaring the indenture of lease PI cancelled, and (c) for ejectment.It seems to me that, even upon the view most favourable to the plaintiff,his action was premature in so far as the claims for cancellation andejectment were concerned. It is true that under the Rent RestrictionAct a tenant who is in default of rent for over a stipulated period becomesdeprived of the statutory protection which he may ordinarily claim afterthe contract of tenancy has been duly terminated. But this does notrelieve the landlord of establishing the termination of the contract (eitherby due notice or by effluxion of time) before claiming a decree for■ejectment. This aspect of the legal position does not seem to have beenbrought to the notice of the learned District Judge.
In my opinion, the plaintiff’s action was premature in so far as heclaimed a decree for ejectment and a declaration that the indenture oflease PI was duly terminated. On the other hand, his claim for arrearsof rent was clearly maintainable.
I would set aside the decree under appeal and substitute for it a decreeordering the defendant Company to pay to the plaintiff a sum of Rs. 1,500.(representing arrears of rent) with legal interest thereon from the date ofaction until payment in full. In other respects, the plaintiff’s actionmust be dismissed. The plaintiff is entitled to his costs of trial, but mustpay to the defendant Company the costs of this appeal.
K. D. de Silva J.—I agree.