: or
(bb) in the case of premises let to a tenant, whether before orafter the date of commencement of this Act, and where thelandlord is the owner of not more than one residentialpremises-
(')! or
(ii) the landlord of such premises has deposited prior to theinstitution of such action or proceedings a sum equivalentto five years rent with the Commissioner for National Housingfor payment to the tenant;
22 (7) Notwithstanding anything in the peceding provisions of thissection, no action or proceedings for the ejectment of thetenant of any premises referred to in subsection (1) orsubsection (2) (i) shall be instituted-
where the landlord is the owner of not more than oneresidential premises on the ground that-
(') or
(ii) the landlord of such premises has deposited prior to theinstitution of such action or proceedings a sum equivalentto five years' rent with the Commissioner for National Housingfor payment to the tenant,
Where the ownership of such premises was acquired by thelandlord, on a date subsequent to the specified date, bypurchase or by inheritance or gift other than inheritance or giftfrom a parent or spouse who had acquired ownership of suchpremises on a date prior to the specified date:
Jiffry v. Esufali (G. P. S. De Silva, C.J.)
In this subsection, "specified date" means the date on which thetenant for the time being of the premises, or the tenant upon whosedeath the tenant for the time being succeeded to the tenancy undersection 36 of this Act or section 18 of the Rent Restriction Act(No. 29 of 1948), came into occupation of the premises".
On the question whether the ownership of one house (or at leasta part of a house) is an essential ingredient of the cause of action,Mr. Marleen for the plaintiff-respondent relevantly cited the case ofM. I. Aboobakar v. Jeenath Sulaiha Sulaiman <’> wherein Dheeraratne,J. expressed himself in the following terms:
"The second point raised on behalf of the appellant was thatin order to come under subsection 22 (2) (bb) the plaintiff landlordmust be a one house owner and since the plaintiff was the owneronly of one half of the premises, the action should have necessarilyfailed. The relevant portion of subsection 22 (2) (bb) reads: "inthe case of premises let to a tenant . . . and where the landlordis the owner of not more than one residential pemises". On aplain reading of the relevant part of the subsection it is obviousthat the maximum number of premises that a landlord seeking toavail himself of filing action in terms of that subsection should ownis specified. That is one premises, the landlord may own one ornone at all …"
I have no doubt that this interpretation is correct. What the lawclearly contemplated was that a landlord who owned more than onehouse could not have availed himself of the provisions of section 22
(bb) (ii). It is intended to benefit a category of persons who mayfor convenience be described as "single house owners". This, how-ever, does not mean that the ownership of one house (or a part ofa house) is a condition precedent to the institution of an action inejectment. There is no warrant for placing such a construction, havingregard to the wording of the section. I
I accordingly hold that the plaintiff in the instant case who wasnot the owner of any residential premises prior to the "specified date"was entitled to sue the defendant for ejectment in terms of section22 (2) (bb) (ii). Mr. Daluwatte pointed out that in Aboobakar's case(supra) the plaintiff was the owner of one half share of the premises.This fact makes no difference to the interpretation of the section.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
(1998) 2 Sri LR.
The next submission advanced on behalf of the defendant-appellant was that the plaintiff having acquired ownership of thepremises after the "specified date", the provisions of section 22 (7)of the Rent Act constituted a bar to the institution of the action. Withthis submission, I am afraid, I cannot agree. It seems to me that theprovisions of section 22 (7) were intended to protect a tenant fromeviction by a person who had purchased the premises over the headof the tenant and thus becoming the new landlord. An example wouldbe where A, the owner of a house lets it to B; A thereafter sellsthe house to C who by virtue of the sale becomes the new landlordover the head of the tenant B. Section 22 (7) could apply in sucha situation. In the case before us, however, the position is significantlydifferent. The reason is that the plaintiff was at all material times thelandlord and the defendant was the tenant under the plaintiff. Whatneeds to be stressed is that it was not by virtue of the acquisitionof ownership that the plaintiff became the landlord of the defendant.As far as the defendant was concerned, there was no change of thelandlord by reason of the plaintiff acquiring ownership of the premises.The plaintiff merely consolidated his rights by the subsequent purchaseof the premises. The right to sue the defendant in ejectment hadaccrued to the plaintiff before he became the owner of the premises(vide Aiyathurai v. Shanmugavadivul2>, where the analogous provisionscontained in the proviso to section 27 (1) of the Rent Act wereconsidered).
The Court of Appeal rightly held that: "the plaintiff in the instantcase has acquired ownership of the said premises while being thelandlord of the defendant . . . and … the statutory bar in section22 (7) of the Rent Act would therefore not be applicable to him".
For these reasons, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costsfixed at Rs. 1,000. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is affirmed.However, having regard to the fact that the defendant was inoccupation of the premises since 1965 and the acute shortage ofhousing, I direct writ of ejectment not to issue till 30th September,1999. The plaintiff is entitled to take out writ without notice and tobe placed in possession of the premises in suit after 30th September,1999.
WIJETUNGA, J, – I agree.
GUNASEKERA, J. – I agree.
Appeal dismissed.