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Land law becomes relevant when a person’s right to use or supply property is affected. Common land law cases involve tenancy or lease agreements, conveyancing, land title disputes, and indigenous/customary land rights.
Julia is living in a flat in Sheung Wan. She paid a deposit worth two months’ rent when she moved into this flat. The rent is pretty high, but the salary at her most recent job was just enough to cover the bills. However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, she was recently laid off at her job and does not have enough money in her bank account to cover the next month’s rent. Julia wonders if she could negotiate with her landlord to take her next month’s rent from the deposit.
Julia must look back to her tenancy agreement. Unless there is an express clause in the tenancy agreement stating that the deposit can be used to cover rent, she will not be allowed to cover her rent with the deposit. This is because covering her rent with the deposit will take the effect of ‘returning’ the deposit back to Julia, reducing the assurance for Julia’s landlord that Julia will duly fulfill her obligations during the remaining tenancy period, such as paying rent or keeping the property well-maintained. Check paragraphs 16-17 of a Lands Tribunal decision in 2015 here for future details.
It is implied by law that failure to pay rent 15 days after the due date will give the landlord the right to forfeit or terminate the tenancy agreement. If this is Julia’s first time during the tenancy agreement failing to pay rent on time and her landlord obtains a Court order to take back the flat (order for possession), Julia may apply for a ‘relief against forfeiture’, giving her a grace period (length decided by the Court) to pay her outstanding rent as well as the landlord’s legal costs.
Disclaimer: The article is for reference only and should not be construed or relied on as legal advice in whatsoever manner. Please engage a solicitor to seek formal legal advice. LegalClarus does not provide legal advice.