Q&A – 18 October 2010

Wrong medication from pharmacist

I was prescribed medication by my physician only to be given the wrong drugs by the pharmacist. It resulted in my sugar level remaining out of control, long periods of absenteeism from work and a lot of distress. The pharmacy owner personally apologized to me. Should I accept the apologies?
DD, Moshi

We’re not sure how one ‘accepts’ apologies and what qualifies us to guide you on this. As lawyers, we are certain about one thing- you have a good cause of action against the pharmacist and the pharmacy, and should jointly sue them. You can claim for various damages- case law on this in Tanzania is not as developed as it is in other countries, but you have a good case. You should not feel bad about suing professionals; you will actually be making the system more efficient.

Illegal guest house

Our neighbor has converted his house into a guest ‘bubu’. The hiring of rooms is on hourly basis and the place is used by persons for short term pleasure. The owner seems not to care about our complaints. The neighbor is creating nuisance for us. We have no parking, there is loud music, smoke, drugs, alcohol and condom packs all over the place. What should we do? Is prostitution not illegal in residential areas?
ZC, Kinondoni

From the facts, it seems that the owner is committing an offense against public order. The Hotels Act disallows anyone from carrying on the business of a guest house unless he holds a valid license and the premises in respect of which the license applies has capacity of accommodating not less than six guests.

It is likely that your neighbor does not have a valid license to operate this kind of lodging business. You can complain to the hotels board which is empowered to shut down this guest house. In the alternate you can take your neighbor to court over the nuisance caused. We also recommend that you do a search of the land and find out whether the area is meant for residential purposes or commercial purposes, or both. Should your findings reveal that the land is meant only for residential purposes, the opening of this guest house is should have been disallowed and the license has been issued in error.

Be informed that prostitution is illegal not only in residential areas, but all areas. This is a criminal offence and you can complain to the police who shall take appropriate action.

Lease ending with husband’s death

I am a widow with three children. My husband passed away recently leaving us in a rented house belonging to a certain parastatal. We have occupied the house for the last 20 years and have always paid rent on time. Very surprisingly after the death of my husband the landlord wants us out alleging that the person with whom he signed a lease agreement is no more and therefore the lease is terminated. Is this demand from the landlord legally justified? What should I do?
BT, Msasani

From the facts of your case and under the eyes of the law and unless the lease had expired or the deceased had defaulted payment of rent, the landlord’s move is illegal. Death cannot terminate the existing lease agreement-we doubt that the lease would have such a clause, and even if it did, you can likely challenge it. Normally, as the wife of the deceased, you would be able to succeed to the tenancy, if you were residing in the house before the death of your husband; so long as after the death of your husband, you have remained in total compliance with tenancy terms and conditions which includes prompt payment of rent, the landlord’s move should be condemned. You should however read the lease in its entirety to make sure that there are no other defaults that could lead the lease to be terminated. If the landlord doesn’t understand this position, you will have to file an application in Court. We advise you to consult your lawyer.

New landlord not renewing lease

I have been living in a bungalow in Oysterbay for 3 years. My landlord sold the property to a developer who is not willing to renew my lease on grounds that he wants to demolish and develop the property. Does my lease apply to the developer? Should I have not been offered this property before my landlord offered it to this developer? What should I do? Isn’t this against public policy?
BY, Dar

Our answer to this question is not likely going to please you and from the outset we advise you to employ a lawyer who will review the entire file. For the time being, we shall answer your question without pondering on anything else that is material and has not been disclosed to us.

The developer must have bought the property subject to the lease and is hence bound by the lease; he becomes your new landlord. And if the lease is expiring, and he does not wish to renew it, there is nothing much you can really do.

There is also no law that makes it mandatory for the landlord to offer the property to you, unless it was specifically agreed upon, which does not seem to be the case here.

We do not see any public policy issue either that will come to your rescue. The law encourages new development to cover for the shortfall in housing. If at all, the opposite is true- blocking the development might be against public policy