Goodland Ltd v Lim Ban Toon

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date10 May 1966
Docket NumberSuit No 214 of 1965
Date10 May 1966

[1966] SGHC 9

High Court

F A Chua J

Suit No 214 of 1965

Goodland Ltd
Lim Ban Toon

Dennis Lee (Lee & Lee) for the plaintiff

K E Hilborne (Hilborne & Co) for the defendant.

Chew Khan v Lim Weng Yoon [1965] 2 MLJ 136 (folld)

Rye v Rye [1962] AC 496; [1962] 1 All ER 146 (folld)

Conveyancing and Law of Property Ordinance (Cap 243, 1955 Rev Ed)

Landlord and Tenant–Termination of leases–Surrender–Tenant purchased land jointly with others in equal undivided shares–Tenant continued to reside on land–Whether tenancy surrendered by operation of law–Whether a owner can grant a tenancy to himself

The defendant was originally staying on a piece of land and paid ground rent. Subsequently, the defendant and other persons bought the land with the defendant taking one undivided equal hundredth share. He then stopped paying ground rent. The defendant and the other purchasers then sold the land to a company in return for shares in the company. The land was sold subject to existing tenancies. The company subsequently sold the land to the plaintiff and the sale of land was also subject to existing tenancies. Throughout these sales, the defendant continued to reside on the land. The plaintiff contended that the defendant had ceased to be a tenant after he purchased the land and had instead become a licensee paying no rent. It sued for a declaration that the defendant was not entitled to use the land and an injunction to restrain the defendant from entering and occupying the land. The defendant objected on the basis that he was still a tenant.

Held, granting the declaration and injunction:

It is impossible for a person to grant a tenancy to himself or for two persons to grant a tenancy to themselves. Similarly, three or more joint owners cannot grant a tenancy to one of them. As such, the defendant could not be a tenant after he became the owner of the land. Further, there has been a surrender of the tenancy by operation of law: at [9], [17], [18] and [19].

F A Chua J

1 The plaintiffs' main claim in this case is for:

(a) Adeclaration that the defendant's right to use the plaintiffs' land and premises known as 390-T Paya Lebar Road, Singapore (hereinafter referred to as “the premises”) has been determined.

(b) An injunction to restrain the defendant by himself, his members of the family, servants or agents from entering and occupying the said premises.

2 The following facts are not in dispute:

(a) The house known as 390-T Paya Lebar Road stands on part of land comprised in Lot 36-10 of Mukim XXIII which contains an area of 33 acres (hereinafter referred to as “the said land”). The said house was erected in 1928 by Lim Cheng Liew, the father of the defendant, and he paid ground rent to the estate of Lim Tay Yam deceased, the owner of the said land.

(b) Lim Cheng Liew lived in the said house with his family. The defendant has been living there since he came from China 38 years ago.

(c) Lim Cheng Liew died in March 1949, and the defendant continued to pay the ground rent.

(d) In November 1950, the defendant and 39 other persons (who I will hereafter refer to as “the other purchasers”), some of whom like the defendant were living on the said land and paying ground rent (who I will hereafter refer to as “tenant-purchasers”), purchased the said land from the sons of Lim Tay Yam for the sum of $87,538.75. The conveyance was executed on 16 November 1950, by which the vendors conveyed the said land to the purchasers “to hold the same unto the purchasers in fee simple as tenants in common”, the...

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