Court name
High Court of Tanzania

Suleiman Moh'd vs Subash Gangaram & Others () [1997] TZHC 17 (30 September 1997);

Law report citations
1997 TLR 268 (TZHC)
Media neutral citation
[1997] TZHC 17

  H Hamid, CJ
This is an appeal from the decision of a Rent Restriction Board in which the respondents Subash Gangaram and three others had successfully sued the appellant one Suleiman Moh'd and won their case when the Board declared that they were lawful tenants of the demised premises.
I The simple facts of the events giving rise to this appeal are as

follows: Subash Gangaram, Harish Gangaram and Banu Gangaram are the sons and daughters of A the family of the late Mr and Mrs Santobai Gangaram who died in 1995. Mr Santobai Gangaram had been a legal tenant of the demised premises belonging to the appellant for an unspecified period. That the late Santobai had been a tenant of the appellant is beyond any dispute, so also is B the fact that there existed no written tenancy agreement between them. An earlier attempt by the appellant to have the late Santobai evicted from the leased premises had failed in appeal to this court as the appellant had failed to provide the late Santobai with satisfactory alternative C accommodation in accordance with the law. Another attempt by the appellant to have Mrs Santobai evicted from the leased premises after the death of her husband had failed when this court ruled that the late Mrs Santobai Gangaram could not be evicted from the premises as she became a D legal tenant by virtue of surviving the legal tenancy from her late husband Santobai Gangaram, who died while still a legal tenant of the demised premises (applying the interpretation of a `tenant' as per s 24(1) of Rent Restriction Decree Cap 98 the Laws of Zanzibar).
After the death of Mrs Santobai the surviving children of Mr and Mrs Santobai, that is the E respondents, now claim legal tenancy arguing that their late father's tenancy which was `inherited' upon his death by their mother now automatically passes on to them after the death of their mother. The Rent Restriction Board had actually made its decision on that line and had on that basis F endorsed their tenancy. Aggrieved by that decision the landlord, has appealed to this court seeking the reversal of the Board's decision and asking that this court declare the respondents as not legal tenants and consequently order them to hand over to the appellant the vacant possession of the demised premises for the occupation for his now large and overgrown family. Mr A Patel, the G learned counsel for the respondents had advanced a host of arguments supporting the decision of the Board which all boil down to one main point, that the circumstances of this case entitle the respondents to be statutory tenants and therefore renders them to become eligible to the enjoyment of all rights applicable to legal tenants under the law. H
Mr Patel thus asserts that the respondents are statutory tenants. Section 24(1) of the Rent Restriction Decree Cap 98, the Laws of Zanzibar points out the following as conditions of statutory tenancy and I quote: I

A    `S 24 (1)
      A tenant who, under the provisions of this Decree, retains possession of any premises shall, so long as he retains possession, observe and be entitled to the benefit of all terms and conditions of the original contract of tenancy, so far as the same are consistent with the provisions of this Decree and shall be entitled to give B up possession of the premises only on giving such notice as would have been required under the original contract of tenancy, or if no notice would have been so required, then, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any law in force in Zanzibar, on giving not less than one months notice: Provided that ...'
C I will approach this section on two fronts. The first will be with regards to whether the respondents are, legally speaking, statutory tenants and the other is, should they be legally statutory tenants, whether they are not subject to eviction at the request or notice of the landlord. Section D 24(1) of the Rent Restriction Decree cited above, pre-supposes a statutory tenant to have acquired tenancy from a pre-existing legal tenancy agreement and I would venture to say that there is a pre-supposition that such existing tenancy agreement be an original agreement between the E landlord and tenant. It would not in itself be a statutory tenancy. It is my view that it is a statutory tenancy where a wife continues to be a tenant in a house whose original tenancy agreement was between her late husband and the landlord whereby upon the death of the husband the wife was entitled to continue with the tenancy, as has been in the present case.
F In such a case it cannot be assumed that there is a tenancy agreement signed between the landlord and the tenant, but a continuation of an agreement as agreed upon by the late husband and the landlord. In this case I fail to find any authority pointing to the fact that a statutory tenancy shall as of right pass over to a potential statutory tenant upon the death of an existing statutory tenant. G That being the case, I am inclined to rule that the respondents in this case who claim to be tenants in the disputed premises by virtue of having been living in the premises with their now deceased mother, the mother who herself inherited the tenancy from her late husband are not and cannot, H under these circumstances be legal tenants. And needless to say, that if they are not legal tenants they should vacate the premises and hand over the same to the appellant, the landlord.
I The second side of my argument hinges upon a supposition that the respondents are indeed statutory tenants, a point which has

been accepted and indeed put forward by the learned advocate for the respondents himself. So A the respondents, accepting that they are statutory tenants, are in accordance with s 24(1) of the Rent Restriction Decree Chap 98, the Laws of Zanzibar bound by the terms and conditions of the original contract of tenancy, which in this case, is the contract between the late Santobai Gangaram B and the appellant landlord.
It is a fact that there was no written contract between the appellant and the late Santobai Gangaram and therefore there can be no question of a specific time for the appellant to give notice to quit to the tenant. Section 24(1) cited above stipulates clearly that if no notice is so required, then C notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any law in force in Zanzibar, the tenants shall be entitled to vacate the premises upon being furnished with notice to vacate for not less than one month.
The section needs no further elaboration. That the landlord notified the respondents to vacate the D demised premises leaves us with no doubt. In fact that is the basis of the present controversy.
This case is more than six months old and therefore the one month's notice requirement in order for the respondents to vacate has already been fulfilled. That being the case I see no reason why E the respondents should not vacate and hand over vacant possession of the demises to the appellant.
Appeal allowed with costs.

A