Landlord and Tenant
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XIII. Termination of tenancies (for breaches of the tenant other than non-payment of rent)

In the event that the tenant pays rent on time but commits serious breach(s) of the tenancy agreement (e.g. subletting, conducting illegal activities, causing nuisance, installation of illegal structures or causing enforcement actions by the Incorporated Owners), the landlord may wish to terminate the tenancy and find another replacement tenant.

In such case, it would be necessary for the landlord to rely on any forfeiture/termination clause as expressly provided under the tenancy agreement to put an end to the tenancy and claim possession from the tenant. If the tenancy agreement is silent on such matter, the landlord (for residential premises only) may only rely on section 117(3)(d) to (h) of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance (Cap. 7) to exercise implied rights of forfeiture as a fallback. Note that the law does not imply such right to terminate the tenancy agreement for tenancy agreements other than residential tenancies.

The landlord who wishes to terminate the tenancy on such ground is also required to give prior written notice to the tenant by specifying the breach and require the tenant to remedy the breach (or compensation payable) before termination and/or claiming possession of the property against the tenant.

When the claim for possession is heard before the Court, the Court has a discretion in deciding whether or not to grant ‘relief against forfeiture’ in favor of a tenant under section 58 of the Conveyancing and Property Ordinance (Cap. 219) (i.e. continuation of the tenancy by the tenant who already ceased the breach and upon payment of all legal costs incurred by the landlord) by considering the seriousness of the breach, whether the breach was ‘remediable’ and/or whether any permanent damage/stigma was attached to the property.

  1. My tenant has removed one of the partition walls of the residential unit. Can I use this as a reason to terminate the tenancy agreement?
  2. The neighbor has complained that the tenant of my property in an industrial building has persistently caused excessive noise during late evenings by having overnight binge drinking parties with over 100 guests and a lot of garbage was left at the lift lobby in early mornings. The matter was reported to the police too and certain people were arrested from the scene being suspected of drug abuse. Can I terminate the tenancy agreement? If the case is heard in Court, will the Court grant any ‘mercy’ to the tenant?