In general

It is often the case that a statutory tenant (the 'tenant') abuses their protection provided under the Rent Control Law Act of 1983 (23/1983) (the 'Law'), in order to avoid payment of the rent. What eventually happens is that the tenant is served with the necessary demand notice, which he often disregards, and after a period of 21 days, as required by the Law, the owner proceeds with the submission of an application for eviction.

Systemic delay

However, the Law provides under the second proviso of Article 11 (1) (a) that no order for eviction will be made provided that the tenant proceeds with payment of the full amount within 14 days from the service of the application unless the tenant does not systematically pay the rent throughout the tenancy period. The true spirit and purpose of the Law is to compensate the relative positioning of the parties i.e. the favourable position of an owner in juxtaposition to the weak position of the tenant. The Law provides for this extra protection in order to strike a balance between the difference in positioning but not without establishing rules, such as the second proviso of Article 11 (1) (a), for use against the true spirit and purpose of the Law. The purpose of this proviso is to stop any abusive conduct by the tenant, as has recently been affirmed by the newly founded Appeal Court in Appeal No. 230/2020 dated 17/11/23.

The proviso

The proviso differentiates between two different scenarios. The first scenario is created by the payment of the rent duly owed within the period of 14 days from service of the application for eviction. On this occasion, provided the tenant is considered to be a prompt payer throughout the tenancy period, no order for eviction can be made.

The second scenario is created only in case the tenant has paid the full amount duly owed but has omitted to systematically pay the rent throughout the tenancy period. Once this scenario is created the second proviso is activated and the owner is able to proceed to an eviction despite the tenant's full payment of the rent owed, within the allowed period. In the Appeal, the Court further clarified that the owner does not have the burden to prove that the non-payment was being made purposely or with any bad faith.

It is evident that each case will be judged on its own set of facts and the analogy between the systematic non-payment and the length of the tenancy period will need to be taken into account. We note that in the Appeal the tenant had missed payment 49 times in the span of 4 years for what was meant to be a 6-year tenancy agreement. The Appeal Court reminded us that the legislator created a balance within the legislation and that every word has its own meaning and purpose.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.