My tenant who is a foreigner left the country for abroad where he stayed for four years before returning to the country. Before he left the country he said he would stay there for only 1 week. To assure me that his stay abroad would be short, he left with me his car together with the ignition key. Since he owed me a full years’ rent and I was not sure when he would return, I decided to sell his car to recover the rent. He came back just a week ago and has reported me to the police for stealing his car. Do I have any defence I can raise?
Section 9 of the Penal Code [Cap.16 R.E 2019] provides a defence to a person who sells a property of another if the sale was done in exercise of an honest claim of right and without intention to defraud. A landlord who sells the property of his tenant to recover his rent can raise the defence of bonafide claim of right that he sold the property of the tenant because the tenant defaulted to pay rent. However, for the defence to be accepted it must appear to the Court that the landlord sold the car on genuine belief that he was recovering his rent. Unless there is something you have concealed from us, you seem to be in a position of a good defence.