Cyprus Mail

Succession of a statutory tennant

A STATUTORY tenancy, being governed by the law, is related to the premises, presupposes a tenancy and is personal, connected with the right of the statutory tenant to remain in possession and not to be evicted as long as the provisions of the Rent Control Law are met. The aforesaid right derives from the law and can be acquired by the surviving spouse or child of the tenant, provided they resided or worked in the premises at the time of the tenant’s death. This status and personal right may be acquired, but not the obligations of the tenant, which cannot be transferred to the surviving spouse or child.

The obligation for the payment of rents in arrears of the deceased is not transferred because the spouse or child remain in the demised premises but it continues to be a personal obligation of the tenant and payment can be claimed from his representative – administrator of his estate. The surviving spouse or child who remains in the premises or works there becomes a statutory tenant under the law and the obligation to pay the rent arises thereafter. The landlord, to whom the deceased tenant owes rent, is not entitled to claim them from the surviving spouse or child and apply for their eviction from the premises. Such a claim will be dismissed as happened in an application tried by the Rent Control Court. The landlord insisted on claiming rent in arrears from the children of the deceased tenant as well as their eviction from the premises.

The deceased was a statutory tenant, his children worked in the premises and by law they acquired the status of statutory tenant. The fact that they formed a company was found to be an internal matter and did not substitute the children as tenants. As regards the rent in arrears owed by the tenant before he passed away, the court raised the question whether his children became liable to pay and if they were subject to eviction for the said reason. The answer was negative since the deceased tenant’s debt could have been claimed only from his estate, as any other civil debt. The court further stated that the statutory tenancy relates to the premises and does not depend on the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.

It is a personal right which the children acquired under the Rent Control Law when their father passed away and his obligations were not transferred to them and remain personal. The landlord should have claimed the rents for the premises regarding the period until the tenant’s death from the administrator of his estate and could not claim them from the children since the debt stems from the person and not the statutory tenancy. The court dismissed the landlord’s suggestion in view of the amendment of the law whereby the meaning of the term ‘tenant’ includes the statutory tenant’s children who work in the premises before his death. The case under examination was about the transfer of the deceased’s obligations and his debt
to the administrator of his estate.

Therefore, the court held that the landlord should have claimed the rent in arrears from the administrator of the estate of the deceased and not from his children. It added that the re-possession of premises covered by the Rent Control Law is forbidden and it is only allowed in certain cases and therefore it dismissed the application of the landlord. 

George Coucounis is a lawyer specialising in the Immovable Property Law, based in Larnaca, Tel: 24 818288, [email protected],

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