The Rural Leases Control Board, presided by Magistrate Dr Francesco Depasquale, ordered a tenant to vacate land, after it was proved that an illegal construction was built on it. This was decided on 30 May 2018 in the case Raymond Xerri -v- Anthony Delia, Martin Vassallo and Raymond Delia.
Raymond Xerri filed an application asking the Board to take possession of his land rented to the three defendants in March 1997. He claimed that the land was not being used as it was intended.
The defendants filed a statement of defence and in it they claimed that the land was used according to how they agreed and with the applicant’s consent.
The Board had received a copy of the lease agreement which established that the rent was Lm100 a year and the lease was extended every year.
In fact, the receipt book reflected this.
The government had taken Xerri’s land therefore, Xerri asked the defendant to give back the land, for his use. He also told the Board, that he had agreed that the defendants build a single room, but they built more than one room, which forced Xerri to report the matter to MEPA.
The Board had received copies of receipts for years from 1997 to 2006, which were paid by Twanny and Raymond Delia.
The Board had appointed technical experts to report on the land. The experts described the land subject to the judgement and held that the defendants insisted that the new rooms they found, replaced the two rooms that existed.
There were also two stables. The land was also tilted, and potatoes were the produce.
The applicant, Xerri emphasised that the lease was extended year by year and therefore, he had a right to reclaim the land for himself.
The Board explained that was not competent to order the defendants to vacate the land on ground that the lease was terminated on the ground that they did not have a title. This would have to be decided by another court.
Magistrate Depasquale, analysed whether Xerri had authorised the defendants to build on his land, included two stables.
Following Xerri’s report to MEPA, the defendants were forced to demolish these buildings.
The Court’s experts did verify these stables did exist through photos. Such buildings are not allowed since the land is in an Outside Development Zone.
Therefore, Xerri managed to prove that the defendants were in breach of the lease agreement.
The Board also took into consideration that Xerri wanted the land to develop it into a cow farm, however, the application was rejected.
The applicant and his son, were forced to purchase land to have a cow farm. Therefore, the Board was not convinced that the applicant did not need the land for himself.
The Board turned down the defendants’ pleas and upheld the applicant’s claim to repossess of the land and gave the defendants three months to vacate the land.
Dr. Malcolm Mifsud
Partner Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates
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