Tenant ordered to vacate field due to lack of maintenance

The Land Regulation Board, presided over by Dr Francesco Depasquale, ordered on 23 April 2014 that a field be returned to its owners, John and Isabelle Azzopardi, since it was proved that the tenants carried out no maintenance.

John and Isabelle Azzopardi instituted an action against Frances Desira, wherein they asked the Board that land in Gudja be returned to them after it was rented to Frances Desira for €6.99 a year. The land was abandoned and had damages, therefore the conditions for the rural lease was not adhered to.

On 15 June 2009, the Azzopardis purchased the land by court order. The Court Expert’s description was that the land was 4.4 tumoli and that it was worth €25,768. However the land was rented to Frances Desira for an annual rent of €6.99, which was paid at Dr Philip Bianchi’s office.

The applicant’s architect Ludovico Micallef issued a certificate stating: 

“During this site inspection, it found out that the rubble walls surrounding the field had been allowed to fall into disrepair. Also the wooden gate, which barred access to the property, was completely destroyed. It is quite evident that it had been a long time since any type of repair works have been carried out on the walls/gate by the tenant of the site.”

The land was abandoned and had damages, therefore the conditions for the rural lease was not adhered to

The document was accompanied by a number of photos. Furthermore, a certain Eugenio Galea testified that he titled the land and sowed wheat.

Magistrate Depasquale held that there was no doubt that at the time when the application was filed the field in question was in a bad shape. The only use was that the land was tilled once a year and that wheat was sold to third parties. The defendant’s son testified that he helped his mother in planting onions, potatoes and other vegetables. It resulted that the son, Carmelo Vassallo, worked abroad and the Board commented that it believed the Azzopardis that the Vassallos asked for money to vacate the place.

The Board referred to previous judgements as in Vivien Cassar Desoin v. C. Vella of 15 July 2009 before the Court of Appeal, which held the tenant is bound to take care of the property and is also bound to return the property in the same condition it was given.

In another judgement J. Zerafa v T. Casha decided by the Court of Appeal of 10 May 2006, the Court held that the tenant was bound to keep the walls in good order and repair.

The Court upheld the Azzopardis’ request and ordered Desira to vacate the field within 3 months.

Dr Malcolm Mifsud

Partner

Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates

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