Saturday, 29 May 2010

Replevin: Trinidad & Tobago

Q: My Landlord changed the locks and doesn't want me to get my stuff. What can I do?

A: Replevin is a remedy that enables a tenant to recover possession of goods, which have been illegally distrained. This is further elucidated in Sealandaire Ltd v Paul (1994) High Court, No 169 of 1994

The remedy consists of two parts:
1. the replevy, whereby the tenant obtains re-delivery of the goods; and
2. the action of replevin, in which the validity or otherwise of the distree is determined.

Replevin is ONLY available where the distress was illegal, not where it was excessive or irregular. Illegal distress that can give rise to replevin are:
(a) where no rent was due
(b) where there was no demise at a fixed rent
(c) as in Selandaire, where the landlord/tenant relationship was terminated before the distress was levied

Excessessive distress occurs where more goods are seized than are reasonably necessary to satisfy the arrears of rent and proper charges of the distress.
Carter v Carter (1829) 130 ER 1118
Irregular distress occurs where, although there was a right of distress, a wrongful act was committed at some stage of the proceedings, subsequent to the seizure.
Op cit, Atkin’s Court Forms, fn 121
This remedy can be excercised at any time before the sale of goods. However, according to Warner J in Cornwall v Trincity Commercial Centre Ltd (1996) High Court, No 1437 of 1995, under s 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Ordinance of Trinidad and Tobago, the distrainor is empowered to sell the distrained goods if replevy is not made within five days.

If the claimant is successful, he will NOT be entitled to damages for the value of the goods if they were returned to him when the replevy was made, BUT may recover general damages annoyance and for injury to trade/credit/reputation. Smith v Enright -1893- 63 LJQB 220

For more information on Replevin, please read Commonwealth Caribbean Property Law by Gilbert Kodilinye

7 comments:

  1. I did not make a lease agreement with tenant.Does a verbal agreement stand in court with regards to rental agreements?I gave the tenant 45days to move,and she has,not moved out as yet. Also,no rent has beem paid for the year.I applied for a court order. How long will it take to get the tenant out. Hearing is in April.

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  2. Verbal agreements are legal, but difficult to prove unless there was continuous actions by both parties, which would confirm the terms, e.g. same rent amount paid on the same day each month/week.

    Was the notice to move in writing? Make sure that you serve written notice correctly and that you follow all the correct procedures. If there are problems which the tenant has complained about and you've ignored, for example if the property is dilapidated, this may weaken your court claim.

    Court orders are given on the day and usually gives the tenant 14 days to leave, but they still may not leave, at which time you might have to wait another month to get a bailiff to physically evict them.

    DO NOT TRY TO EVICT THEM YOURSELF!

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  3. My lord does not clean the property on time and at this time the grass is so high you could get lost in it. What can i Do?

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  4. After a year I've decided to move my store to another location, and my landlord has told me that "by law I cannot remove anything that's attached to the building", ie the PVC ceiling I installed a week before i started renting there...He doesn't want to refund me the money spent nor allow me to take back my materials.. please advise me...ASAP

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  5. what are the legal ramifications if a landlord change the locks after no rent was paid for four months and a letter was given to tenant for him to move one month from the date on the letter which has passed?

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  6. what are the legal ramifications if a landlord change the locks after no rent was paid for four months and a letter was given to tenant for him to move one month from the date on the letter which has passed?

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    Replies
    1. None. The right procedure was followed. However, do not remove/destroy any property until you get the court's permission.

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