Court overturns commercial premises (Rent) Regulations

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The High Court has overturned the law which protected tenants renting commercial properties from being evicted from premises after the expiry of their contracts.

Sections 22 and 23 of the Commercial Premises (Rent) Regulations, 1983 authorised them to continue staying or using premises despite the expiry of their contracts.

The owner of the building was prevented from evicting the tenants as long as they were abiding by the terms and conditions of the expired leases.

High Court judge Justice Webster Chinamhora, however, ordered tenants to immediately vacate the premises after the expiry of their contracts noting that sections of that law were unlawful and unfair.

A cumulative reading of section 22 and 23 shows that these provisions unfairly limit the powers of a court in ordering eviction and heavily restrict the lessor’s rights to terminate occupancy or seek eviction and possession of the premises after the lease expires.

The regulations create a forced relationship between the lessee and the lessor known as statutory tenancy. My view is that sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) of section 22 (2) effectively preclude the lessor from increasing rentals or leasing out the property to another person once the statutory tenancy protection applies.

Read the full High Court Ruling HH 81-23

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