H. N. G- FERNANDO, C.J.—Sirisena v. Pieris
Present: H. N. G. Fernando, C.J.
D. SIRISENA, Appellant, and Jlrs. P. A. E. PIERIS, RespondentS. C. 43168—C. R. Colombo, 9224SIS.E.
Landlord and tenant—Payment of rents—Evidence of tenant that landlord refused tcissue receipts—Credibility—Pent Restriction Act (Cap. 274), s. 16—Landlord'srefusal to accept rents—Effect.
•Evidonca given by a tenant that ho hod regularly paid routs to the landlordbut that no rocoipts ivoro evor issued to him shju'.d not bo disbelieved merelyon the ground that ho did not tako steps under section 16 of tho Rent RestrictionAct to compel tho landlord to issue receipts.
If ft landlord wrongly refuses to accopt rents tendered to him in tho form ofI’ostal Orders or othor means of payment, tho Court may order them to bodelivo.-od to him on condition that if ho is for any reason unabto to obtainpayment upon any such document, ho will have to boar tho consequent loss.
Appear from a judgment of the Court of Requests, Colombo.
M. Tiruchelvavi, Q.C., with S. A. Marikar, for the defendant-appellant.
R. P. Cooneiillekt, for the plaintiff-respondent.
Cur. adv. vult..
October 4, 1970. H. N. G. Fernando, C.J.—
The principal finding of the learned trial Judge in this action forejectment of a tenant is that the tenant had been in arrears of rent fromJuno 1904 to October 1965.
The ease for the plaintiff was that the rent charged was Rs. 7 50 permonth, and that rent- at this rate had been paid up till May 1934, but notthereafter.
The defendant stated in evidence that the rent had been Its. 15 permonth, which lie liad paid regularly to the plaintiff each month untilFebruary 19C5, but that no receipts wore ever issued to him. It wasproved that the defendant tendered rent as Rs. 15 per month thereafterthrough the Rent Control Board, but that these payments were notaccepted by the plaintiff.
There ajipear to be three grounds on which t lie- learned Commissioneraccepted the plaintiff’s evidence as true.
Firstly, lie points out that prior to February 1965, the tenant hadmade no allegation to the Rent Control Board that the rent charged hadbeen Rs. 15. But he did not realize that at that stage the tenant wasquite willing to pay Rs. 15 per month ; in fact from March 19G5 and even
If. X. G. FERXAXDO, C.J—Siriscna r. Picris
after the. filing of this action, the tenant regularly remitted payments tothe Board at the rate of Rs. 15 per month. It was onty as a defence tothe action for ejectment that the tenant claimed that excessive rent- hadbeen charged.
Secondly’, the learned Commissioner thought that if no receipts hadbeen issued, the tenant " should have got an order to compel the landlordto issue receipts While it is correct that s. 16 of the Act imposes aduty on landlords to issue receipts, it is nevertheless well known, parti-cularly in our Courts, that rent receipts arc often not issued, and thattenants ignore this default if they are content to pay something higherthan the authorised rent. I have not yet come across any ease in whicha landlord lias been prosecuted for a failure to issue receipts.
Since the first two grounds on which the Commissioner relied wereunsound, there remains only the third ground, namely that tiro rentreceipt book PI appeared to bo genuine and that according to the bookthe last receipt issued to this tenant had been for the May 1964 rent. Butthere were in my opinion many proved circumstances which tended toshow that the tenant had paid rent for subsequent, months.
On 18th February 1965, the tenant made a statement DM to theGrama Sevalca that the nuts and brunches of a coconut tree standingbehind the house had been falling on the roof and endangering the safetyof the tenant’s child ; lie complained that the landlord had paid noattention to this matter. On action taken by the Grama Sevaka, thelandlord had got the branches cut. What is significant is that after thisunpleasantness between the parties, the tenant thought it wise to payhis rent through the Rent Control Board ; prima facie at least, thetenant’s conduct in paying the rent for March and April 1965 to theBoard, renders it likely that he had duly paid the rent direct for previousmonths.
On 31st April 1965, the landlord’s lawyers wrote the letter Dl to thetenant, stating that (he landlord proposed to demolish the house becauseit was in a dilapidated condition, and giving notice to the tenant tovacate the premises. The lawyers surely knew that flic ground statedin this notice is not a ground on which s. 13 of the Act permits a Court toenter decree for ejectment-. But., if the landlord’s evidence is true,namely that the rent had been in arrear from June 1964, the landlord’sobvious failure to inform his lawyers of that extremely important fact isto me inexplicable. Indeed, it was not until July 1965, in a letter to theRent Control Board, that the landlord first took up) the position that thetenant had been in arrears for a very long period.
In my opinion, the proved conduct of the parties afforded the besttest as to the truth of their conflicting evidence on the question.whetheror not rent had been paid for periods subsequent to June 1964 ; thelandlord’s evidence, when tested in this manner, was quite unworthy ofbelief.
TFa’mataacna v. Inspector of Police, Hambantota
If the Postal Orders or other means of payment tendered by thedefendant are in the custody of the Court or of the Rent. Control Board,they must ho delivered to the plaintiff. But if the plaintiff is for anyreason unable to obtain payment upon any such document, she will haveto bear the consequent loss.
The appeal is allowed, and the plaintiff’s action is dismissed with costsin both Courts.
H. D. SIRISENA, Appellant, and Mrs. P. A. E. PIERIS, Respondent