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Tenants sue landlord over rentals

sefikaNat Molomo

MASERU — Nine companies who are tenants at Sefika Shopping Complex have petitioned the court to stop rental increases.

The companies are suing the property manager, Morai Maseela & Co (Pty) Ltd and property owner, the National University of Lesotho.

Sefika Shopping Complex is managed for the National University of Lesotho
under a property development deal with the Lesotho Evangelical Church of Lesotho.

According to their court papers the applicants want the court to declare the unilateral decision made by the landlord unlawful as the increased monthly rentals from October 2013 were done without having consulted them prior to the decision.

The companies Champion Import & Export (PTY) Ltd, Baba Enterprise (Pty) Ltd, Sun River International (Pty) Ltd, Hong Shun Import & Export (Pty) Ltd, Lan Wen Sheng (Pty) Ltd, Chen Tou (Pty)Ltd, Jia Jia (Pty), Zhen Fei (Pty) Ltd, Kinhom Furniture (Pty) Ltd.

In their court papers the applicants are asking the court to call on Morai-Maseela & Co to explain why that company cannot be interdicted and restrained from unilaterally imposing increased sub-lease agreement rentals and corresponding three months deposit payments.

These payments are to be used as rent security from the applicants.

The tenants at the Sefika Shopping Complex want an order restraining Morai-Maseela & Co from evicting them or pressurising them to vacate the retail premises they occupy under the sublease agreement pending completion of the matter in court.

The tenants also seek an order directing the Morai-Maseela & Co and the NUL to reverse the unilaterally increased monthly rentals that were due on October 1, 2013.

The applicants allege that the increases cause contractual financial and business prejudices to them.

They want to be permitted to continue paying rent at the current monthly rate until the court has resolved the matter.

In her founding papers Xixian Yao, managing director of Champion Import & Export (Pty) Ltd, complains that Morai Maseela & Co demands that the rental payments must be implemented or effected from October 1, 2013.

These rentals, she said, have already escalated by 10 percent plus 14 percent VAT.

She said the applicants were not consulted about the rental increases.

She states that she and other applicants have been lawful tenants at Sefika Shopping Centre and had been using shop premises for 11 years and a written sublease (agreement) had been concluded between her and HH Osman whom she regarded as a sublessor and the tenancy agreement has been in place for three years.

In its answering papers, Morai-Maseela & Co attached the supporting affidavit of the Registrar of the National University of Lesotho, Tumelo Tsikoane, who confirms that Morai-Maseela & Co have been authorised to act as property managers for the shopping complex.

The respondents say that HH Osman has not been joined in the proceedings as he features as a person who sublets the premises.

But the Sefika Shopping Centre managers said the applicants violated the provisions of the Deeds Registry Act 1967 in occupying the premises for three years without having registered subleases.

The case will be heard on Tuesday.



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