Sirisena v. Perera
COURT OF APPEAL.WIGNESWARAN, J.,JAYAWICKREMA, J.
C.A. NO. 837/91 (F).
A. NO. 304/94 (REV).
C. COLOMBO NO. 6968/RE.NOVEMBER 13, 1998.DECEMBER 11, 1998.
Rent Act, No. 7 of 1972 – S. 21, s. 21 (3), s. 22 (3)c, s. 33 (2) – Arrears ofrent for over 3 months – Specifying the amount of rent as arrears – Notice toquit.
The plaintiff-respondent instituted action for ejectment of the defendant-appellantfrom the premises in question on the ground of arrears of rent. The defendant-appellant averred that rent had been paid, and further contended that the noticeto quit did not state the amount of rent due as arrears and stated that the noticeof termination of tenancy must specify the amount of rent in arrears.
The only requirement under s. 22 (3) (a) is to give the tenant 3 months' notice,of termination when rent has been in arrears for 3 months or more after
it has become due.
Once a notice specifies the date and the months for which the tenant wasin arrears, there was no further requirement that the amount of rent shouldalso be specified in the notice. It is not necessary once the 3 months'arrears are specified to calculate the amount due further and state samein the notice.
"It is the duty of the tenant to pay the rent and if the landlord refusesto accept same section 21 provides for an alternate method of paying suchrent."
APPEAL from the judgment of the District Court of Colombo.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri LR.
Cases referred to:
Sidebotham v. Holland – 1985 1 QBD 378 at 383.
Basnayake v. Edirisinghe –  1 Sri LR. 195.
A. K. Premadasa, PC with C. E. de Silva for appellant.
S. Gunasekera for defendant-respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
March 26. 1999.
This is an appeal from a judgment dated 03. 07. 1991, entered infavour of the plaintiff by the Additional District Judge of Colombo.
The plaintiff-respondent instituted this action for the ejectment ofthe appellant from premises No. 846, Bandaranaike 2nd Lane,Gothatuwa, Angoda, on the grounds of arrears of rent and of damagescaused to the property.
At the trial tenancy was admitted. The learned counsel for thedefendant-appellant submitted that the plaintiff-respondent admittedthat no receipts were issued to the appellant for payment of rent. Theappellant states that even up to the date of notice to quit markedP1, rent had been paid to the respondent by the appellant, though,no receipts were issued. He contended that it should be the duty ofthe landlord to issue to the tenant a receipt in acknowledgment ofevery payment made by the tenant by way of rent, whether or notsuch is demanded by the tenant. He further contended that the noticeto quit marked P1 does not state the amount of rent due as arrearsand that the notice of termination of tenancy must specify the amountof rent as arrears. He further submitted that the words “all arrearsof rent" appearing in clause (c) of subsection (3) of section 22 ofthe Rent Act, No. 7 of 1972 means only such rent specified in thenotice of termination of the tenancy as being the arrears and nothing
Sirisena v. Perera (Jayawickrama, J.)
more, nothing less. He further contended that by not issuing receiptsfor payment of rent, the respondent had violated section 33 (2) ofthe Rent Act.
The plaintiff in his evidence admitted that he did not issue receiptsfor payment of rent as the defendant made no request for suchreceipts. The defendant admitted that he was the tenant and that hepaid a monthly rent of Rs. 60/- to the plaintiff. Further, the defendant-appellant admitted that he received P1, the notice of termination oftenancy. P1, which was admitted by the defendant-appellant dated26. 06. 1987 stated that "you . . . failed and neglected to pay rentfrom August, 1985, up to date and thereby failing to pay rent for aperiod over three months".
At the trial the main question to be decided was whether thedefendant-appellant was in arrears for over three months from Au-gusts 985. The defendant-appellant stated in his evidence that al-though, he tendered rent, the plaintiff-respondent refused to acceptsame and that, therefore, he paid the rent to the authorized person.But, the defendant-appellant has not tendered any documents orreceipts to prove such deposit of rent. On that basis the learned trialJudge held that as the burden of proof of paying the rent was withthe defendant-appellant he should prove such payment and that hehad not done so. Under section 21 of the Rent Act the defendantmay pay the rent to the authorized person and such payment shallbe deemed to be a payment received by the landlord. But, in theinstant case, the learned trial Judge has observed that the defendant-appellant had not proved such payment by producing receipts or bysummoning the authorized person to prove such payment. Undersection 21 (3) of the Act, the authorized person is bound to issuereceipts to the tenant for such payment of rent.
In view of the above observation of the learned Additional DistrictJudge, I am of the view that he has come to a correct finding asregards to the question of non-issue of receipts. It is the duty of thedefendant to pay the rent and if the landlord refuses to accept samesection 21 provides an alternative method of paying such rent.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri Lfl.
As regards the question of specifying the amount of rent due asarrears in the notice of termination of tenancy section 22 (3) (a) ofthe Rent Act provides as follows:
“The landlord of any premises referred to in subsection (1) orsubsection (2) shall not be entitled to institute, or as the case maybe, to proceed with, any action or proceedings for the ejectmentof the tenant of such premises on the ground that the rent of suchpremises has been in arrears for three months or more after ithas become due."
if the landlord has not given the tenant three months' noticeof the termination of tenancy if it is on the first occasion on whichthe rent has been in arrear, etc.
The landlord has to give the tenant three months' notice of thetermination of tenancy if it is on the first occasion on which the renthas been in arrear.
Thus, the only requirement under the above section is to give thetenant three months' notice of the termination of tenancy when rentof such premises have been in arrears for three months or more afterit has become due. This section does not provide further that theamount due also should be specified in that notice. In any case, inthe instant case, the defendant has admitted that the monthly rentis Rs. 60/- and that he had paid the rent to the authorized person.Therefore, the defendant-appellant cannot complain that he was notaware of the amount of rent due for three months. In terms of section22‘ (3), a notice of termination of tenancy in order to be valid hasto be given after the rent has been in arrear for three months. Undersection 22 (3) (b) if the tenant had prior to the institution of suchaction tendered to the landlord all arrears of rent or according tosection 22 (3) (c) if the tenant had on or before the date fixed insuch summons as is served on him as the date on which he shouldappear in Court, in respect of such action or proceedings, tenderedto the landlord all arrears of rent, the landlord is not entitled to institute
CASirisena v. Perera (Jayawickrama, J)299
or proceed with the action in terms of section 22 (1) (a) of the RentAct. The conditions precedent for the institution of an action on theground of arrears of rent is that the rent of such premises had beenin arrear for three months or more, after it had become due and thetenant had not prior to the institution of such action tendered all arrearsof rent. The tendering of all arrears prior to the institution of the actioncures all defaults. On a reading of the above sections it is clear thatthe requirement in respect of a notice of termination of tenancy isthat the tenant was in arrears for three months or more and nothingelse. Once a notice specifies the date and the months for which thetenant was in arrears, there was no further requirement that theamount of the rent should also be specified in the notice. The otherrequirement is that three months' notice of the termination of tenancyshould be given to the tenant, if it is on the first occasion on whichthe rent has been in arrear.
In Sidebotham v. HollandLindley, LJ. formulated the followingrule of interpretation : "The validity of a notice to quit ought not toturn on the splitting of a straw. Moreover, if hypercriticisms are tobe indulged in, a notice to quit at the first moment of the anniversaryought to be just as good as a notice to quit on the last moment ofthe day before, But, such subtleties ought to be and are disregardedas out of place."
In Basnayake v. Edirisinghd2> it was held that the words "all arrearsof rent" appearing in clause (c) of subsection (3) of section 22 ofthe Rent Act, No. 7 1972 meant only such rent as has been specifiedin the notice of termination of the tenancy as being the arrears andnothing more, nothing less. In the above judgment nowhere is it statedthat the notice should contain the amount of rent due as arrears, theonly requirement being to specify the minimum three months whichthe tenant had been in arrears.
In the instant case three months which the tenant was in arrearswas specified in the notice and the defendant-appellant had acceptedthat he received it. The notice of termination of tenancy dated
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri LR.
26. 06. 1987, clearly states that the tenant was in arrears of rentfrom August, 1985, up to date of the notice. Thus, this notice compliedwith section 22 (3) of the Rent Act. It is not necessary once the threemonths' arrears are specified, to calculate the amount due further andstate same in the notice.
We have examined the evidence led in this case, the writtensubmissions of counsel and the evaluation of the evidence by thelearned District Judge carefully. We are in agreement with the viewtaken by the learned District Judge.
Hence, we dismiss the appeal with taxed costs and affirm thefinding of the learned District Judge.
WIGNESWARAN, J. – I agree.Appeal dismissed.