CourtCourt of Appeal
Judge(Settle, P., Le Quesne and Molony, JJ. A.):
Judgment Date20 July 1972
Date20 July 1972
(Settle, P., Le Quesne and Molony, JJ. A.):

A. Clyde-Smith for the appellant;

H.M. Attorney General for the respondents.

Housing—rent control—Rent Control Tribunal—change of circumstances—required to justify application for review of rent—failure to give notice of change of circumstances denies other party opportunity to be heard properly on determination of application—fundamental breach of natural justice nullifying determination of application

Housing—rent control—Rent Control Tribunal—locus standi of States—by Dwelling Houses (Rent Control) (Amendment No. 2) (Jersey) Law 1965, States and administrative organs of States excepted from Law—decision made by Rent Control Tribunal on application of States as tenant prima facie improper and nullity

Housing—rent control—meaning of "rent"—financial liability incurred in return for right to occupy premises—in Dwelling Houses (Rent Control) (Jersey) Law includes sums payable for occupation, use of furniture and services—quarterly pre-payment exempting tenant from obligation to repair or decorate not "rent"

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Royal Court (Samedi Division) given on the 21st June 1971 whereby it was adjudged that the decision of the Rent Control Tribunal with respect to the rents of Flats 1 to 3 and 5 to 12 Amitié Court, Grouville, was not ultra vires.

The reference to the Rent Control Tribunal (hereinafter called "the Tribunal") was by letter of the 7th January 1967 from the Housing Officer by direction of the Housing Committee of the States (hereinafter called "the Committee") which was the tenant of Flat 4 Amitié Court. The reference was made pursuant to Article 4 of the Dwelling Houses (Rent Control) (Jersey) Laws 1946 and 1951 (hereinafter called "the Laws") as amended by the Dwelling Houses (Rent Control) (Amendment No. 2) (Jersey) Law, 1965. The reference embraced all twelve flats in Amitié Court.

The events preceding and attending the reference which were canvassed in the judgment under appeal, and in an earlier judgment following the trial of a preliminary issue on the 2nd July 1970, may be summarized as follows:

(1) The Appellant was the owner of Amitié Court and, as a result of earlier references to the Tribunal, the rents of five of the twelve flats had been determined, Nos. 1, 2 and 10 at £325 and Nos. 5 and 12 at £312. Subsequent to these adjudications, which were in August 1963 (apart from that relating to Flat No. 5 which was in December 1963) new leases of all twelve flats were executed in late September 1963 and were the leases current for the purposes of this case.

(2) The new leases were in identical form and imposed no obligation on the lessee to execute decorative or other repairs either during or at the termination of the term. The final clause (8) provided: "It is further agreed between the parties hereto that the Lessor shall not in any way require the Lessee to redeliver the premises hereby let in good order and condition in consideration of a sum of …….. pounds sterling per annum payable quarterly in advance. It is further agreed that the Lessee accepts the flat as it is in a good state of interior repair and decoration and shall not require the Lessor to effect any further interior repairs or decorations during the continuation of this present agreement".

(3) The amount inserted in Clause 8 was £40 in most instances, but £39 in the case of No. 5 and £27 in the cases of Nos. 1 and 2. The tenants, it would seem, paid the sums required of them under Clause 8 in addition to the rent, with the possible exception of the tenant of No. 5, who queried the propriety of the additional charge when he appeared before the Tribunal in December 1963. The Tribunal did not then rule upon the point but said the matter should be discussed between lessor and lessee.

(4) On the 16th August 1966 the Committee took an assignment of the lease of 4 Amitié Court, which lease was for a term of 5 years from the 29th September 1963.

(5) On the first occasion when the Committee were liable to pay an instalment under Clause 8 it failed to pay and on the 13th December 1966 the Housing Officer wrote to the Appellant alleging that Clause 8 could be regarded as onerous and in some cases could amount to a concealed additional rent and pointing out that the problem was not confined to Flat 4 but applied to all the flats, particularly those that were rent restricted.

(6) The Appellant in reply denied that there was a concealed rent and asserted that the Tribunal had considered the matter some time back and had declined to incorporate the Clause 8 sum in a global rent figure. We were informed that the Appellant had in mind two letters passing between his agents and the Tribunal in 1958, and we were supplied with copies. We also noted claims in the written cases, and the oral representations on behalf of the Appellant, that the Tribunal on one or more occasions had approved specifically the insertion or retention of Clause 8. In the absence of any supporting oral evidence we were not convinced by these claims which in the event would not have added anything to the Appellant's case.

(7) The letter of reference of the 7th January 1967 which ensued, read as follows:

In its Act, No. 11 of 28th December 1966 the Committee has directed me to ask the Tribunal to adjudicate on the rents chargeable on all twelve of the flats on this estate. The rents of Flats Nos. 1, 2, 5, 10 and 12 have already been the subject of decisions by the Tribunal, but this general reference in respect of all twelve flats is made in the following circumstances. The...

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