By Our Reporter
Tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has awakened war against dfcu Bank squeezing it to cough Ugx32 billion accrued from rent arrears of the buildings formerly occupied by the defunct bank.
Sudhir through his firm Meera Investments Ltd, took matters to the Commercial Court to compel dfcu to pay him Shs 32bn plus interest for breach of tenancy agreements in respect to Plot 38 Kampala road (former Crane Chambers) and Plot 40A on Kampala road.
For starters, the case stems from a December 16, 2014 tenancy agreement in which Meera Investments let out the basement, ground, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th floor of Plot 38 Kampala road (Crane Chambers) and all of Plot 40A Kampala road to Crane bank for a period of 10 years.
“Under clause 3(c) of the tenancy agreement, it was specifically agreed by the parties (Crane bank and Meera) that the tenancies shall remain firm and binding on them until the expiry of ten years,” reads part of the plaint filed by Meera.
In the above tenancy agreement, Crane bank would pay $46,980 (Shs 171m) in rent and $46,980 (Shs 171m) in ground rent per month with a seven per cent annual increment for Plot 38 Kampala road and $9,890 (Shs36m) in rent and $9,890 (Shs 36m) in ground rent for Plot 40A Kampala road.
According to the Meera plaint, dfcu, in February 2017, entered into a revised contract in “respect of the basement and ground floors of Plot 38 Kampala road for a fixed period of three years.”
Dfcu, however, reportedly continued to occupy 1st, 2nd 3rd and 7th floors of Plot 38 Kampala road and Plot 40A Kampala road “under the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement dated December 16, 2014” until April 30, 2017, when it opted to vacate them.
According to Meera, this constituted a breach of clause 3(c) of the surviving tenancy agreement, that covenanted that the “tenancies shall remain firm and binding on them until the expiry of ten years” and for this breach, dfcu is “liable to pay the plaintiff the sum constituting rent for the unexpired period of 84 months being $8,660,462.34 (Shs 31.6bn).”
Sudhir says that the tenancy agreement between Crane Bank and Meera which is scheduled to expire on March 31 2024, has no clause for termination in the contract.
”The agreement was a fixed tenancy for 10yrs for six floors which binds the successor, dfcu, which continued occupying premises. The rentals were not an excluded liability,” Sudhir says.
He adds that the rent demanded is in respect of the four floors occupied by the Dfcu.
”There is no reasonable tenant as a bank would behave in that manner, dfcu Bank Limited was in breach of tenancy agreement,” he adds.
Now, Meera among others wants dfcu to pay the rent on account of being the successor in the title to Crane Bank Limited (in receivership) as a tenant in the premises, being the transferee of the assets and liabilities.
Meera also seeks interest on the sum of the prevailing commercial rate from the date the said sums became due until payment in full, general damages with interests and cost of the suit all arising from various breaches allegedly committed by dfcu bank.