A lot has been written and said about the Red House saga. Many legal arguments have been advanced as to the validity of the lease. These opinions have emanated from both lawyers and non-lawyers alike. What cannot be disputed is that it is not lawful for a landlord to determine unilaterally that a lease agreement is invalid, to purport to terminate it and evict the tenant after giving 48 hours notice. A tenant has security of tenure. The rule of law and the Constitution dictate that legal issues are to be determined by a court of law of competent jurisdiction. In relation to landlord and tenant, the law outlines a procedure by which the validity of a lease is to be determined and the process by which a tenant loses possession.
It will certainly be anarchy if every landlord is free to unilaterally determine the validity of leases and free to evict tenants under those leases from possession of rented premises.
Applying those elementary but undoubted legal principles to the Red House saga, one can clearly see how the President has grossly erred. The principles to which I refer above, apply to ordinary landlord and tenant situations. They will apply with greater force to the state and government in relation to a 99 year lease.
Significantly, though the PPP government entered into the lease as the landlord, the obligations of the landlord do not change because of a change in government. Therefore the current government stands in the shoes of the previous government in the eyes of the law in relation to legal obligations. All the arguments which have been advanced against the validity of the lease place blame at the feet of the landlord, that is the previous government. However, the landlord remains the Government of Guyana. The law will never permit a landlord to plead and rely upon his own mistakes in order to invalidate a lease and then use that as a basis to defeat the tenant’s leasehold interests. That is exactly what the government is doing in this matter.
In conclusion, the executive government is relying on its own mistakes, and is usurping the functions of the judiciary in determining legal issues and is subverting the rule of law by avoiding going through the legal process to recover rented premises from a tenant.
Just imagine what would happen if every Guyanese who has a legal problem decides to emulate the government and deal with the matter in a manner that they feel is correct, in disregard of the law and the legal system. Anarchy will be the result.
Mohabir Anil Nandlall, MP