SOERTSZ A.C.J.-^-Jeevani v. Arunachdlam Chettiar.
1939Present: Soertsz A.C.J.
•TEEVANI v. ARUNACHALAM CHETTIAR.
30—C. R. Colombo, 32,452.
Landlord and tenant—Agreement by tenant to carry out Municipal regulations—Closing order oi premises by Municipality—Liability of tenant—Claimfor remission of rent.
The defendant took certain premises on a monthly tenancy from theplaintiff and undertook at the same time to be responsible for all Muni-cipal regulations. The Municipal authorities made a closing order inrespect of a portion of the premises on the ground that the portion wasunfit for human occupation, being filthy and insanitary.
Held, that the defendant was npt entitled to claim a reduction of rentin consequence of the closing order, as he had failed in his obligation tomaintain the premises in conformity with the Municipal regulations.
PPEAL from an order of the Commissioner of Requests, Colombo.V. A. Kandiah (with him Miss Mehta), for plaintiff, appellant:
N.E. Weerasooria, K.C. (with him M. Somasunderam), for defendant,respondent.Cur adv. vult.
May 23, 1939. Soertsz A.C.J.—
Stated briefly, the facts relevant to this appeal are these. Thedefendant took certain premises belonging to the plaintiff on a monthlytenancy from February 1, 1936, at a rental of Rs. 1E>0. The defendantundertook to be “ responsible for all Municipal regulationsOn February 2, 1937, the Municipal authorities made a closing order inrespect of a portion of these premises, on the ground that that portion wasunfit for human occupation in that it was “ very filthy and insanitary;gunny and plank partitions all over, walls and ropf sooted, floor badlydamaged, no proper dustbins, goats being tethered in the garden, and thewalls of the premises in a ruinous conditionIn consequence of this closing order, the defendant appears to have lostsome of the tenants to whom he had sublet some of these rooms. In the
»18 Q. B. D. 116.
SOERTSZ A.CJ.—Jeevani v. Aruhachalam Chettiar.
middle of March, 1937, he wrote to the .plaintiff requesting him to takeback possession of the leased premises on March 31, and he addressed acircular letter to his remaining tenants to pay rent from April to theplaintiff. Plaintiff no'w sues to recover rent for the months January-April. The defendant claims a remission of Rs. 100 for each of the monthsJanuary-March inclusive and denies liability for April’s rent in view ofthe notice he gave. The learned Commissioner held the defendant liablein full for January’s rent, gave him a remission of Rs. 75 in respect of'each of the months of February and March, and exempted him altogetherfrom rent for April. The appeal is from that order.
Voet (it.2.23) enumerates the grounds upon which a tenant is entitledto claim a remission or reduction of rent. In brief, a tenant is so entitledif he has been deprived in whole or in part, of the use of the leased premisesfor the purposes for which they were leased to him,'where the deprivationis caused by vis major, casus fortuitous, or the default of the landlord, butnot if it is due to his own default.
In this case, there is no question of vis major or casus fortuitus. Theonly question is whether the closing order was due to the default of thelandlord or of the tenant. Of the issues framed, the one that deals withthis question is issue No. 6, “ did the defendant (i.e., the tenant) undertaketo conform to and be responsible for all Municipal regulations and to paydamages? ” The Commissioner’s answer to this issue is “ I have nodoubt he did”. But he goes on to add “but that would not exoneratethe plaintiff for having let to him a building that was unfit for humanhabitation. It is not suggested that the closing order was due to anyact or default on ‘ plaintiff’s ’ (sic) part ”. (I think ‘ defendant’s ’ wasmeant.) There was no plea by the defendant that the building was notfit for human habitation when it was let to him, and there was no issueon it, and what is more there is no evidence whatever to justify such afinding. The premises were let to the defendant from February, 1936.The letter from the Public Health Department complaining of the stateof the building is dated December 1, 1936, nearly ten months after theletting, and the terms of that letter suggest that the default was. that ofthe t.enant, “ at present, they are very filthy and insanitary ”. Thatfact is borne out by the defendant’s failure to protest against the state-ments made in the plaintiff’s letter to him P 3.
In my opinion, therefore, the closing order was made because thedefendant failed in his obligation to maintain the premises in conformitywith Municipal regulations, and he is not entitled to any reduction inrent for the months of- February and March.
In regard to the rent for the month of April, the Commissioner hasexempted the defendant from it on the ground that he was entitled toquit without notice. I am unable to share that view. In my opinion,the plaintiff was entitled to reasonable notice, and I hold that in thecircumstances of this case, the notice the defendant gave to the plaintiffwas reasonable. The plaintiff is not entitled to claim rent for April.
In accordance with these findings of mine, I set aside the judgment ofthe Commissioner, .and enter judgment for the plaintiff for Rs. 150 andhalf costs here and below.
JEEVANI v. ARUNACHALAM CHETTIAR