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The Rent Act

Posted by Ivan on September 6, 2023
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The Rent Act on the Recovery of Premises by a Landlord

The Rent Act 1963 (Act 220) (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) provides the conditions under which a landlord may recover possession from a tenant or that may lead to the ejection of a tenant from the premises.

 

Premises is defined by the Act under Section 36 as: “any building, structure, stall or other erection or part thereof, moveable or otherwise, which is the subject of a separate letting, other than a dwelling house or part thereof bonafide let at a rent which includes a payment for board or attendance”

According to the law, no order against a tenant for the recovery of possession of the premises or ejectment shall be made by a competent court unless at least one of the conditions below is satisfied. These conditions include non-payment of rent, subletting without the landlord’s consent, using the property for illegal or immoral purposes, and causing damage to the property among others.

The Recovery of Possession of a Landlord’s property for personal use

A landlord may also apply for an order to recover possession of their property if they require the property for their occupation or the occupation of their spouse, children, or parents. The onus of proving that the premises are reasonably required for personal occupation is on the Landlord. This law was upheld in Adu and Others v. Clegg [1981] GLR 173.

A landlord must further satisfy the following conditions outlined in the case of Boateng v. Dwinfuor [1979] GLR 360 for the recovery of premises for personal use:

 

  1. The landlord must be able to demonstrate a bona fide need for the property for their occupation or that of their spouse, children, or parents.
  2. The landlord must have served a notice to quit on the tenant by the provisions of the Rent Act.
  3. The landlord must have allowed the tenant to contest the claim for possession.
  4. The tenant must have no valid defense to the claim for possession.

 

If these conditions are met, the court may grant the landlord an order to recover possession of the property. It is important to note that the Rent Act provides several protections for tenants, and the court will only grant such an order if the landlord can show that the conditions have been met and that the tenant has no valid defense to the claim for possession.

 

The court must however be satisfied that, having regard to the circumstances, greater hardship would not be caused by granting the order.

Therefore, in assessing the circumstances of greater hardship, the court shall consider the alternative accommodation available for the person whose occupation the premises are required or for the tenant (Apoloo CJ in Oman Ghana Trust Holdings Ltd vAcquah (1984-86) 1 GLR 198))

 

Who qualifies as a family member per the Landlord’s recovery of premises for personal use?

The word “family” must not be understood here in the Ghanaian sense of extended relations. A “member of the family” is defined under Section 36 of the Act as meaning the father or mother, a wife, husband, child, brother or sister of the landlord. Other relations are however excluded.

In Nimako v. Archibold [1966] GLR 612 it was emphatically stated that neither statutory law nor customary law places any limitation on the class or age of the landlord’s family. Children who are of age or are married are still classified as children.

 

What is the Notice Period Required for ejectment by the Landlord under Section 17?

It was held in Adu and Others v. Clergg (supra) that under section 17(1) (g), six months’ written notice was not required. However, where the lease agreement is terminable by notice, the notice to terminate must be by the provision of the lease.

 

Contrastingly, If the lease has expired and the landlord intends to use the premises for their business purposes, and the premises was originally constructed to be used for such purposes, the landlord must give the tenant not less than six months’ written notice of their intention to apply for an order for the recovery of possession or ejectment from the premises.

It is important to note that the landlord must have a genuine intention to use the premises for their business purposes and must not use this as a ploy to evict the tenant. The court will take into consideration the circumstances of the case, including the nature of the landlord’s business, the suitability of the premises for such business, and the reasonableness of the notice given to the tenant, when considering whether to grant an order for ejectment.

Other grounds for which the Court will grant an order of ejectment?

Where a landlord intends to pull down the premises and construct a new one, or to re-model the premises, an order of ejectment against a tenant may be granted by the court. That is if the landlord intends to demolish or remodel the rental property, and such construction or remodeling cannot be carried out while the tenant is occupying the property, the court may grant an order for the ejectment of the tenant to enable the landlord to carry out the necessary works. This provision allows the landlord to recover possession of the property to carry out significant works, which cannot be done while the tenant is still in occupation.

Secondly, where the tenant was living in the rental property as part of their employment with the landlord, and their employment has now ceased, the court may grant an order for possession or ejectment at the instance of the landlord. This provision allows the landlord to recover possession of the rental property that was provided as part of the tenant’s employment package, now that their employment has ended.

Lastly, if the landlord was previously living in the property themselves, but let the property while he was away from Ghana or the local area, and now wishes to re-occupy the property. If these conditions are met, the court may grant an order for the ejectment of the tenant to enable the landlord to re-occupy the property if the property was let substantially furnished.

 

The law must be stated abrogates the tenant’s obligation to pay rent in cases where the landlord breaches his fundamental duty to ensure his tenant’s quiet enjoyment by entering the property and evicting the tenant before the tenancy expires.

 

In sum, a landlord must satisfy one of the conditions specified in section 17(1) of the Rent Act, 1963. Tenants whose tenancy have determined, but who cannot be ejected because the landlord has not satisfied section 17(1) may continue in possession as statutory tenants. The tenant may, of course, decide to quit on the determination of his tenancy; but if he decides not to, he cannot be lawfully evicted unless the landlord satisfies section 17(1).

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