C.C. 1150/04 2004 R NO.19
IN THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE
FREDDIE ROBERTS - PLAINTIFF
MR. ANTHONY MONDAE -DEFENDANT
BEFORE THE HON. MR. JUSTICE .J. M. KAMANDA JUDGE DATED THIS 5™ DAY OF MAY, 2006
This action is brought by the Plaintiff/landlord against the Defendant for
1. Recovery of possession of that portion of premises known a 10 Pultney Street, Freetown.
2. Mesne profit as from 1st October 2004 to Judgment.
The Plaintiff testified on his own behalf and called no witnesses. He said that the Defendant was a yearly tenant and had been so far a period of 6 years and 6 months. The rent per year was Le. 300,000.00. The Plaintiff tendered in evidence a letter dated 30th March 2004 which he claimed was a notice terminating the tenancy with the Defendant. On the failure of the Defendant to vacate the premises, the plaintiff said he consulted a solicitor to write Defendant a letter. The letter dated 26th October 2004 was also tendered in evidence. He concluded his Examination-In-Chief by stating that although the Defendant was still in occupation of the premises, he had not paid rent since September 2002.
Under cross-examination the plaintiff agreed that the defendant took up residence in the premises on 1st April 1996 and issued receipts to Defendant each month rent was paid. He said the lease started in April 1996 and expired in June 2003. The Plaintiff said he allowed Defendant to reside in premises for months of June, July, August 2003 rent-free, and therefrom gave Defendant an extension of 1 year that was to expire in September 2004. Plaintiff agreed that he received sum of Le.300,000.00 and not Le. 600,000/ as claimed by the Defendant. It is at this point necessary to refer to the plaintiff pleadings in his Writ of Summons. In paragraph 3 of his particulars of claim, the plaintiff claims that:
" By a receipt dated 30th September 2003 the plaintiff acknowledged payment of the sum of Le. 600,00.00 from the defendant for one year for the demised premises"
The Defendant gave evidence on his own behalf and also called no witnesses. He admitted that the plaintiff was his landlord for a portion of premises at 10, Pultney Street.
This tenancy whish is unwritten commenced in April 1996 and was a period of 61/2 years which he says expired October 2002. He then continued in occupation until a new arrangement was made with the plaintiff, for tenancy on a yearly basis. This he said commenced in November 2002,and his first year's payment was Le. 400,000/00. In the second year (2003 to 2004) he paid Le. 600,000/00 and was issued a receipt by the plaintiff.
I have reviewed the evidence and find this a cuvious case. What we have is the plaintiff's words against those of the defendants. The plaintiff and defendant both agree their respective status as landlord and tenant for 10 Pultney Street, Freetown. On almost everything else they prefer contradictory version e.g.
On the period of the tenancy/lease although they agree it was for 61/2 years commencing 1st April 1996, they have no common ground when it ended, computing the term from the facts agreed, 61/2 years would end on 30th September 2002. This is more in line with the evidence of defendant than the plaintiff who claims the tenancy ended in June 2003. On the whole it is not clear whether the parties were dealing with a lease for term or a yearly tenancy. It would appears that the parties undertook to perform complex legal issues on their own, and then resorted to legal representation only when the conflicts arose regarding the tenancy and its terms. There was not much the lawyers themselves could do to right the wrongs which were already so glaring. In various portions of the evidence of both plaintiff and defendant reference is made to whole months, or whole year when what is called for is specific dates in the month. That way the court would determine whether a notice was valid or not, whether a yearly tenancy had expired, or whether a tenancy for term (lease) had expired by expulsion of time.
When both plaintiff and defendant referred to "extention" of tenancy, doubt were created as to what sort of tenancy was being extended. The law does hold that some tenancies e.g. up to 2 years can be made orally. This to my mind create no problems when all the terms, times and issues do not pose conflicting Interpretations afterwards, as has happened in this case. The clearity required in documents relating to dealings in land is now provided for by the Registration of Instruments Cap 256 of the Laws of Sierra Leone (as amend) which assumes that for documents to be registered would be in writing. By further provision, Section 2(2)(a) of Act No. 6 (i.e. The Registration Amendment Act) 1964.
" Every deed, contract, or Conveyances ( which is defined to include a lease) executed after the 1st day of June 1964 shall be void so far as regards any land to be thereby affected, unless it is registered within the appropriate period limited for such registration —"
In this lease was signed between the parties. Understandly none was registered or produced in evidence.
All the circumstances considered, I am clear in my that the nature of tenancy created was a yearly one, commencing 1st April 1996, as agreed upon by both plaintiff and Defendant. There is also evidence that the defendant has been in continuous occupation since that date - a period of a little over 10 years. The Plaintiff has claimed that Exhibit "A" was served on the defendant as a notice To quit. It really is no such things and cannot he regarded constituting a valid Notice to quit.
1 Refuse the claim of the plaintiff for recovery of possession of the portion of known as 10 Pultney Street, Freetown occupied by the Defendant until a valid notice to qui has been served on him for the yearly tenancy commencing 1st April.
2. Consequently the claim for mesne profit is also denied.
3. I hold that what is at issue is mainly a matter of calculation of what is owed to the Plaintiff in rent and order that further evidence be adduced before this court to assess that amount commencing on a date to be fixed at the reading of this judgment.
4. Cost in this cause.
SGD: - HON. JUSTICE J.M. KAMAINDA J. A.
5th MAY 2006.