An eviction order against a statutory tenant in commercial premises protected by the Rent Control Law can only be issued where the tenancy is statutory, the premises are reasonably claimed to be possessed by the owner, his wife or his children and none of them was able to find another comparable premises with reasonable rent for their business, the court finds it reasonable to issue such an order and it is convinced that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, the issue of the order will cause less inconvenience than its refusal and lastly, the landlord has served upon the tenant a written notice to vacate the premises at least one month earlier.
The premises are considered statutory when they were built prior to 31.12.1999 and they are situated within an area declared to be protected by the law. Moreover, the tenancy period stated in the tenancy agreement, oral or written, must have expired or the tenancy must be terminated for the tenant to become statutory. The relevant written notice, which must be served upon the tenant giving him one month notice to leave the premises, is mandatory and this requirement must be satisfied before the landlord files the application to court.
To persuade the court that he reasonably claims the premises for his own needs, the landlord must prove that the need is genuine and existing, subjectively reasonable, immediate and definite, more than a simple wish and a bit less than an absolute need. The purpose of the law is neither to deprive landlords of the possession of the premises nor to take advantage of their need in order to claim higher rent.
To the contrary, the purpose of the legislation is to protect the possession of the premises by the tenants when this is justified. The landlords are also under the obligation to persuade the court that they have tried to find suitable premises with reasonable rent for their business but they were not able to. In this respect, the legislator places two distinct requirements upon the landlords:
- the lack of comparable premises which can be rented
- with reasonable rent.
The term “comparable premises” is connected with the premises claimed to be re-possessed, thus the landlord must prove that he tried without success to find comparable premises in terms of their location, dimensions, age, facilities and other similar characteristics. Regarding the term “reasonable rent”, it is not related to the rent payable by the tenant for the premises claimed. The reasonableness of the rent of the new premises is connected with the business the landlord intends to carry out.
The Supreme Court president interpreted the above requirements in the case of AC Textiles Ltd v. Zodhiatis: “the law imposed on the landlord the onus of establishing another requirement, before the court may consider the reasonableness of the issue of the order of ejectment or the judgment for possession.
The court must be satisfied that the person who reasonably requires the shop for his occupation could not secure other analogous and with reasonable rent accommodation for his business. The words “was not able” or “could not” imports the notion of exerting endeavours to find other accommodation, to look for another shop, but without success.
If the landlord does not give evidence of any endeavours made by him to find other analogous and with reasonable rent accommodation, this is an unsurmountable obstacle for the court to proceed to the third step – the consideration of reasonableness of the issue of the order or judgment – and to the ultimate step in the judicial process, i.e. the balance of hardship.”
The landlord must satisfy all the requirements placed by the law to have an order issued by the court for the eviction of the tenant and the repossession of his premises for his own use.