Singapore Hotel v Airport Hire Cars

JudgeA V Winslow J
Judgment Date03 September 1968
Neutral Citation[1968] SGHC 23
Citation[1968] SGHC 23
Date03 September 1968
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselLo Kok Siong (MB Brash)
Docket NumberSuit No 458 of 1967
Defendant CounselTL Lee (TL Lee & Co)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)

The plaintiffs` claim is against the defendants for recovery of possession of a garage at the rear of No 2 Tanjong Katong Road let to them at a monthly rent of $220 payable in advance.

It is also claimed that such tenancy was duly determined by a notice in writing to quit expiring on 28 February 1967 which was served on the defendants on 30 January 1967 and that the plaintiffs are not precluded from claiming recovery of possession on the following grounds:

(a) that at the date of the notice determining the tenancy rent lawfully due was in arrear for upwards of 21 days after the notice of demand in writing has been served on the defendants and there was no tender thereof at or before such date; and

(b) that the defendants knowingly have committed a breach of the provisions of the Local Government Integration Ordinance, 1963 and/or the rules or bylaws made thereunder affecting the premises which expose the plaintiffs to a penalty fine or forfeiture.

(c) that the defendants without the approval of the plaintiffs have converted into and/or used the said premises as office premises and/or a dwelling house and have thereby committed a breach of a condition of the tenancy. The plaintiffs will adduce evidence at the trial to show that the said premises had been let to the defendants by the plaintiffs for the sole purpose of parking the defendants` taxis therein.

They also claim mesne profits from 1 March 1967 to date of judgment at $220 per month.

The defendants admit the tenancy but deny that the premises were let out to them as a garage.
They claim that they were let to them for use as office premises.

The defendants also deny that the tenancy was duly determined.
They claim that all rent due had been tendered as on the date of the service of the notice to quit but refused.

The defendants also claim greater hardship to them if an order for possession were to be made and deny any breach of any condition of the tenancy by their use of the premises as an office etc.

On the evidence adduced on both sides I make the following finding`s of fact:

(a) The tenancy arrangements were concluded orally between the managing partner of the plaintiffs, one Wong Ser Chin (PW1) and the sole proprietor, Yeo Chin Choo (DW1) of the defendant firm sometime in 1956 although the former changed the year in the course of his evidence to 1959 or thereabouts and later said that he could not remember. Yeo Chin Choo (DW1) was, however, sure that it was in 1956 that he acquired the tenancy of the grounds though not of the outhouse until some years later when the rent was increased. This I accept because the occupation of the outhouse only four or five years later is confirmed by PW2 the plaintiffs` assistant manager. On the whole, DW1 made a better showing as a witness than PW1 and PW2 although I have advised myself that because of the natural desire he has to preserve his tenancy he may have a strong motive for twisting the facts to his own advantage. But similar considerations also apply to the plaintiffs who are no doubt anxious to be rid of his presence in their premises probably as he has been somewhat tardy in payment of rent and also because he has made alterations to the premises (albeit improvements) with a view to `digging himself in` for as long as possible.

(b) The managing partner of Singapore Hotel (PW1) seems to have had little or no time to devote to finding out the use to which the premises behind No 2 Tanjong Katong Road which he had originally let, according to him, with a prohibition against its use as an office, were being put. His unsureness about the tenant`s use of the premises which he never personally visited or supervised, save through underlings towards the end of 1966, makes it difficult for me to place any great reliance on his evidence about the terms of the original oral tenancy. He seemed to depend on his assistant manager, Wee Chong Seng, (PW2), for information about the manner in which the premises were being used and he took no active steps to find out till late 1966.

(c) PW2, on the other hand, was most unsure about the terms of agreement between PW1 and DW1 He took no part in them. He stated he merely collected rent. As for the use made by DW1 of the premises let to him, this witness seemed to know nothing at all about what was going on, save that he said that, about four or five years after the tenancy began, i.e. 1960 or 1961 the defendants were using the outhouse or garage as an office. This, I accept. I find it difficult however to place any great reliance on him either. He said that he did not even know that the outhouse was included in the tenancy. Why, he kept quiet about its use from 1961 onwards has not been explained. He carries the case no further for the plaintiffs on the question of prohibited use but it seems to me that DW1 obtained the tenancy of the outhouse as well in 1960 or 1961 on his paying $20 more as rent because of this.

(d) PW3 was the...

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