We are a company running a real estate business by building and leasing apartments to desiring tenants. Most of our tenants are foreigners. One of our tenants left the country in February, 2020 just before the Corona outbreak in Tanzania. The tenant has not returned to the country todate and we don’t know his whereabouts. We have tried to reach him by email but none of the emails have been replied. Can you guide us on how to evict such a tenant from our apartment and what to do to recover rental arrears he owes us.
Failure to pay rent for over a month constitutes a serious breach of lease agreement in terms of section 101(1), 103(1) and 104(1) of Land Act [Cap.113 R.E 2019] warranting termination of the lease agreement. There are two ways the lessor can use to evict the tenant for failure to pay rent due to him. The quickest way is by landlord serving a notice of intention to terminate the lease agreement to the tenant under section 104 of the Land Act. Section 104(2) outlines the mandatory contents of the notice of termination namely, stating the total amount of rent the tenant owes the landlord; the amount of rent which must be paid to settle the claim; the period, being not less than 30 days from the date of service of notice within which the rental arrears must be paid and the statement that in case the rental arrears is not paid within the given period of 30 days, the lease shall terminate without further notice.
Where the defaulting lessee for some reasons cannot be served physically or by registered post with notice of termination, section 106(5) of the Land Act allows the landlord to use alternative service. The alternative service can be done by affixing a copy of notice in a conspicuous place on the leased house or at the offices of the local authority having jurisdiction in the place where the leased house is located or by publication of the notice in one or more of the newspapers circulating in Tanzania.
After service of the notice, the landlord may, where it is safe to evict peacefully, evict the defaulting tenant through a Court or tribunal broker. This is the fastest way to evict someone. Where it is impossible to evict peacefully, the landlord must institute the proceedings in a land Court with competent jurisdiction to obtain an eviction order from the Court.
Another way of evicting the defaulting tenant is by commencing an action in a land Court with competent jurisdiction against the tenant for recovery of the arrears of rent and praying for eviction from the premises or specific performance of the contract under section 109 of the Land Act. Where this route is taken, the landlord is not allowed to evict the tenant until the conclusion of the proceedings and if there is an appeal until the appeal is decided. This normally is a long process and we recommend your lawyer guides you further.