Page images

tiffs, with costs, for 61. 10s. over and above mises, was the sum upon which the water. the 241. 10s.

rate was to be calculated according to If the Court should be of opinion that this Act, and that no mention was made all the deductions ought to be made, judg- of

any abatement from it. That all you ment was to be entered for the defendant had to do, therefore, was to look at what with costs.

the occupier paid to his landlord for the If the Court should be of opinion that right to occupy the premises, and that some, but not all the deductions, ought to this was a convenient way of ascertaining be made, then judgment was to be entered the amount to be paid, for if you once for the plaintiff with costs for such sum began to discuss what the true rent was, over and above the 241. 10s., as, according it would be almost impossible to settle it. to the judgment of the Court, remains due For instance, a landlord might say, “I to the plaintiff, such sum in case of dif- do not receive as much rent in reality for ference to be settled by one of the Mas. the use of these premises as my neighters of the Court.

bour does for similar premises, for mine The Court was to be at liberty to draw are dilapidated, and a large sum out of inferences of fact.

what I receive goes to keep them in re

pair.” In answer to that argument the Field (Remplay and Darker with him), defendant said, “You cannot always look for the plaintiffs.

to the rent," for the reasons which will Manisty (Cave with him), for the defen- be presently mentioned. The plaintiff's dant.

said, “Look to the rent when you can, The arguments and cases cited are suf. and when you cannot you must take ficiently set out in the judgments.

another criterion.” The plaintiffs further Cur. adv. vult. argued that in truth the value of the

premises to occupy was the rent, notOn June 26, the following judgments withstanding these deductions; because, were delivered

if the landlord had to pay them instead BRAMWELL, B.—This was an action for

of the tenant, the premises became of the recovery of a water-rate or rent from

so much greater value to the occupier; the defendant, who was the owner of and again, that it was as though the many small houses in Sheffield, and the landlord had dug a well or laid on a conquestion was, whether the plaintiffs were duit from a river, which had made the entitled to charge him according to what premises all the more valuable to the ocwas called, and what in one sense is, the cupier. That is what I understood to be rent (that is, the sum paid by the tenant the plaintiffs' argument, and no doubt it to the landlord for the right to occupy the was entitled to weight. premises) without deduction; or whether On the other hand, the defendant the landlord paying the water-rate or rent said it was impossible that "rent" was entitled to deduct from the so-called

could have the signification for which rent of the premises the poor-rate, district the plaintiffs contended, because “ rent" rate, and the water-rate itself. On the

is always spoken of in section 79 as part of the plaintiffs it was said that the

rent per annum, so that, looked at liter. defendant had no right to deduct those ally, cases where there was no letting items or any of them; and on the part of at a rent per annum, but only from the defendant, that he had the right to week to week, or month to month, deduct all of them.

were not provided for. The defendant Now what the plaintiffs strongly relied further urged, that there were on, was the language of sections 79 and where you could not look at the rent, for 80 of the Sheffield Waterworks Act, 1853. instance where a man occupied his own

[His Lordship read those sections.] house ; or a furnished house, and paid

The plaintiffscontended that these words a lump sum for the occupation of the shewed that what was commonly called the house and use of the furniture; or where rent, that which the occupier paid to the he only paid a ground-rent, that is to say, landlord for the right to occupy the pre- where he had taken the land and built a


house upon it and paid rent for that. for a neighbouring house of a similar Therefore, argued the defendant with value of which he has to pay the rates. great force, it is impossible that you can Therefore, argued the defendants, if the look at the word “rent,” as having that plaintiffs are right in their construction, effect which the plaintiffs attribute to it. the result of putting on the landlord the

In answer to the argument that you district rate, the poor-rate, and the waterwould get into difficulties if you once ad- rate, is to increase the nominal rent paid mitted those deductions the defendant to the landlord, and consequently to insaid, “Not at all; because if, instead of crease the sum at which the occupier of "rent,' the words 'annual value' had been the premises may be charged for the used, all those difficulties would have ex- water-rate; and therefore these Acts isted, and yet nobody supposes that they of Parliament, passed with a wholly difwould be insuperable; therefore what you ferent object, will have the effect of adding have to do in all cases where 'rent'is used, ten per cent. to the water-rates or rents is to ascertain what is the annual value or of the people of Sheffield. Certainly that what is the real rent of the premises, as was a very strong observation, and it was distinguished from adventitious advan- also pointed out that certain ridiculous tages which the premises may enjoy.” consequences would follow; for instance,

Now I am not going to attempt to give there are two houses of precisely equal a definition of "rent,” either to satisfy a value; a man, who is the owner of both, ocpolitical economist, or to meet all possible cupies one; it is worth 91. a year, and he cases in which one might require to know is only liable to be rated at 91. a year; he the meaning of the word. Everybody lets the other, and has to pay the district understands pretty well what it is. It is rate, the water-rate, and the poor-rate that sum which the tenant pays to the upon it, and therefore lets it for upwards landlord for the right to occupy the pre- of 101. a year. The result will be that, in mises in a normal state, with nothing but respect of the house that he himself occuwhat may be called their freehold advan- pies, he will be liable to be charged with tages, and not including what I have be- one rate for his water, and in respect of the fore called adventitious or abnormal ad- neighbouring house that his tenant occuvantages, such as that of having the water. pies he will be liable to be charged with rate, or poor-rate, or district rate paid for another rate for the water supplied to his the tenant. Therefore, said the defendant, tenant. Well, that cannot in reason be, there was no difficulty in supposing that unless there is some positive necessity, the Act meant wbat he said it did mean. or extremely plain words in the Act of

The defendant also observed, that at Parliament. the time when the plaintiffs’ Act was passed Another consequence would also follow. they would have, at the outside, a right to To take the same figures, as soon as the charge upon the then rents of the houses. landlord has to pay the district rate, the Now, though there was a possibility un- poor-rate, and the water-rate upon his der Sturges Bonrne's Act, 59 Geo. 3. c. house the rent becomes upwards of 101. a 12. s. 19, that the owners of the houses, year, and then he is not the man to be or some of them, might have been made charged with it, because it is only when liable to the poor rate, yet that Act had the rent does not exceed 101. a year that never been put in force within the plain- the landlord is liable. (I take these figures tiffs' district. Subject to that possi- only for illustration; perhaps the limit bility, at the time when the plaintiffs' should be 71.) But whatever the staAct passed, the tenant paid all the tenants' tutory limit may be, the landlord will, rates. The obvious consequence of im- when he pays tlie district rate, the waterposing those rates on the landlord is to rate, and the poor-rate for the tenants of raise what is called the rent, that is the certain houses, raise the rent above the sum which the tenant will pay for the statutøry limit, and therefore will not be occupation. For it is manifest that an

under any obligation to pay the wateroccupier will pay more for a house of rate; whereas, as soon as the tenants pay which he has not to pay the rates than them, the rent will fall below the statutory limit, and then the landlord will be under they cannot be, and consequently that an obligation to pay the water-rate. The our judgment should be for the defendant. consequence is that there will be certain I do not go into the authorities because houses as to which it will be impossible my brother Cleasby has done so. to say whether the landlord or the tenant only case on which I make any observamust pay the

vater-rate. That is true, tion is Rook v. The Mayor of Liverpool (2), also, I think, of the district rate and the which certainly, to my mind, was decided poor-rate.

by the Court on the ground that the The defendant further says that this parties had come to an agreement. There really is no part of the rent, no part of appears to have been, under the Act of the annual value of the premises; it is Parliament, a sort of right to come to an not like the case of a well that has been agreement, but at all events, in fact, they dug, or of a conduit that has been brought had come to an agreement as to the sums from the stream, which would become at which the water-rate should be fixed. part of the freehold, and might be taken His Lordship then read the judgment of into account in the value of the premises. It is something employed in conjunction CLEASBY, B.- In this case the question with the freehold and its advantages, and

for consideration is, what is the proper is no more a part of the freehold than meaning to be given to the word rent in gas supplied for the purpose of lighting, the 79th section of the Sheffield Water or than warm air. Suppose these houses Works Act, 1853. were next to a factory, and the owner of According to that section, houses are the houses was the owner of the factory, to pay water-rates upon a different scale and could conveniently warm all the according to the rents of the houses, not houses, and so save his tenants the ex- in exact proportion to the rents, but going pense of coal to a considerable extent, he by steps. For example, if the rent shall might charge them an additional rent. not amount to 71. per annum, then at a Or, as is commonly the case in manufac- rate for the whole year not exceeding 61. turing districts, you might have steam per cent. on such rent; if the rent ex. power laid on.

In all those cases it ceeds 71., but not 81., then at a rate not would be unreasonable to say that these exceeding 8s., and so upon a varying things contributed to the rent of the scale, and if the rent amounts to 1001. houses; for though, as between landlord per annum, the rate is not to exceed 31. and tenant, they might conveniently use per cent. upon such rent. the word "rent," and agree that it should By the Water Works Clauses Act, 1847, be distrained for, and in fact it might 10 & 11 Vict. c. 17. s. 68, water rates are to all issue out of the realty, yet it is im- be payable according to the annual value possible to suppose that, for the purposes of the premises, and this Act is only inof this Act of Parliament, and enabling the corporated with the Sheffield Act, where water company to charge, the sum so pay- the provisions of the latter do not vary able would be “rent.”

the former; and as the standard of rating This was the argument on the part of is different, section 68 is not so entirely the defendant, and it has prevailed with applicable as to justify us in saying that me. I cannot think there is much diffi. the effect of the two Acts is that the an. culty in the case. No doubt “ rent” is nual value mentioned in section 68, and used in the Act of Parliament, but it is the rent mentioned in section 79 of the spoken of as a yearly rent, which would Special Act, must mean the same thing. exclude probably the most numerous class It should be noticed that in the earlier of cases, where there is not a yearly rent Sheffield Water Works Act, 11 Geo. 4. c. at all. It means value, and that it must lv. s. 93, the water rates were payable mean value, one more reason was urged, according to the rent taken, by certain viz., that some houses are occupied on steps, in a similar manner though not which no rent at all is paid. The absurd exactly the same as in the present Act. consequences that would result from the But this Act is repealed, and is only adplaintiff's being in the right, shew that

(2) 7 Com. B. Rep. N.S. 240.

verted to on account of the general pro- we think, that the proper rent must be vision in section 93, “that the rate shall ascertained by some regular and fixed be payable according to the actual amount standard, and not by a standard depending of the rent where the same can be ascer- upon whether the house is let or occupied tained, and where the same cannot be by the owner, or is let for more or less than ascertained, then according to such rent three months, or is of a greater or less value as such inhabitant shall be assessed for than a particular sum, or upon the appli. the house tax."

cation of certain Acts of Parliament to Now, when we refer to the Act for the property, or upon the particular arassessing the house tax, 48 Geo. 3. c. 55, rangement made between the landlord and to the schedule (B), we find the assess- and tenants. ment is at certain rates where the houses Now upon the proper construction of shall be worth the rents after-mentioned, section 79, standing by itself, supposing and then follows the scale of rents and no subsequent Act of Parliament on the the assessment in the pound. This subject of rating to be applied to the though not forming part of the Act in premises, the rent paid by an ordinary question, is well worthy of notice as tenant, who himself paid all the rates and shewing the use of the word “rent” as sig- charges properly borne by occupiers, would nifying the rent which a house is worth, clearly satisfy the word “rent.” which is, in other words, the yearly worth It may appear that this would be so or value. For although the actual rent only as regards houses of, or above the is to be the guide when it can be ascer- annual value of 101., because as regards tained, this must mean the actual rent houses not exceeding that value, by secwhen it represents the value, not where, tion 72 of the general Act, the Waterfrom other conditions under which it is works Clauses Act, 1847, the owners of paid as rent, it is no criterion of value such houses are liable to the water-rate at all.

instead of the occupier, so as to make the And the same reasoning we think water-rate necessarily, as regards such applies to the Act in question. The word houses, part of the rent; but this is an ap“ rent cannot signify strictly the rent parent objection only. It would be an actually or accidentally paid. In a row objection if the word "rent" in the of houses all of equal value one might clause in question must signify the rent be let at a nominal rent from love and which the tenant pays, whereas the more affection, another might be let at a reasonable meaning is, what rent the pregreatly reduced rent to a servant in the mises are worth as rent under ordinary employ of the landlord. Another might conditions. yield a small rent because the tenant The word "rent" may, we think, be had repaired the house himself or paid a read to mean what the landlord gets as premium, and no one could contend that rent under the usual conditions, though in any such cases the actual rent would technically this is not its meaning; and if be the criterion. It would not be the the landlord is obliged to pay the watercriterion in any case in which it does not rate, all that he gets as rent, and all that form a means of comparison with other ought to be taxed as rent, is the whole houses as regards their worth. In general payment after deducting what he is the rent paid is what the house is worth, obliged to pay. and is the real criterion of value as dis- The same reason applies with equal tinguished from estimates. It makes a force to the payment for poor-rates and fact the test, which is certain and excludes district rates. partiality

We thus hold the word "rent" in Having arrived at the conclusion that section 79 to mean the proper rent to a the actual rent is not necessarily the rent tenant paying the rates and charges regureferred to in section 79, but the proper larly paid by the tenant, of which the rent for the houses, which would in general actual rent, when the tenant does pay correspond with the actual rent of small those rates and charges, is in general the houses let at weekly rents, it follows, as proper criterion. And this is the same In the pre

thing as the yearly worth or annual value. In The Queen v. Bilston (7), a poorAnd by so holding we escape from the in- rate case, it was held that the water-rate consistency of rating the premises upon a ought not to be deducted from the amount different standard according as the value 111. 5s., found as a fact by the sessions to of the premises makes the actual payment be the gross rental, on the ground that it of the rates fall upon the tenant or land- did not come within any of the deduclord.

tions allowable under the Parochial As. The words "rent" and "annual value" sessment Act, 6 & 7 Will. 4. c. 96. s. 1. are often used indiscriminately, and we In that case there was nothing in the think they are so used in section 68 of nature of a water-rate, but the water was the general Act and section 79 of the supplied at the option of the inhabitants, special Act. As another instance, although and the agreed rent paid by landlord or it is not allowed to refer to the marginal tenant as arranged between them. The reference in construing the clause in an Court held it clear, and could not do Act of Parliament, yet one may do so in otherwise, that the water-rate was not a considering the general sense in which tenant's rate or tax; and that it did not words are used; and section 72 of the come within the other head of deduction Waterworks Clauses Act, 1847, makes the as an expense necessary to maintain the rate payable by the landlord when the an- premises in a state to command the rent, nual value of the premises does not exceed any more than the supply by agreement of 101. The marginal note is, “owners of meat or any other necessary of life would houses not exceeding 101. rent to be liable have done so. The case, therefore, has to the rates.”

no bearing upon the question in the preWe have referred to the various autho- sent case, which is how the compulsory rities cited in the course of the argument. water-rate is to be imposed. We do not think the settlement cases sent case all the deductions claimed are bave

any real bearing upon a case like in respect of charges, which are the subthe present, where we are considering ject of rates and compulsory so far as a system of rating houses. But it may the property is concerned. be noticed that it would appear that the But the case mainly relied on by the case of The King v. St. Paul, Deptford plaintiffs was that of Rook v. The Mayor of (3), was decided because the Court felt Liverpool (2). According to the mar- . bound by a previous decision in The ginal note, that case would be a strong King v. Framlingham (4); and as re- authority in their favour, and if the ques. gards The King v. Thurmaston (5), the tion in that case raised and decided had words of the Acts of Parliament referred not been complicated by an agreement to were as to one of them that the house

between the parties, which was relied on must be bona fide hired for 101. by the in the judgments, and in fact formed the year, and the rent paid for one year; and foundation of them, we should have felt as to the other that the house must be bound by the decision upon a question of rented at 101. a year, and the rent actually such a general nature as rating, and depaid for that term, so that the payment cided accordingly. by the tenant of the rent of 101. for one In that case the water-rate was to be year is the criterion of settlement, a rea- upon the annual value of the premises, son which does not apply to the present and there was a power to compound case at all.

where the yearly rent or value did not The case of In re Elstone and Rose (6) amount to 131. There had been a comraised a question as to the jurisdiction of position-paper by which the appellant the County Court Judge, and the grounds agreed to compound for the water-rates, of the decision do not at all assist the de- and in a schedule the rental of the two cision in the present case.

sets of premises was stated to be 4s. 6d.

per week and 3s. 6d. per week respec(3) 13 East 320. (4) “ Burrow's Settlement Cases,” 748. (6) 1 B. & Ad. 731.

(7) 35 Law J. Rop. (N.s.) M.C. 73 ; s. c. Law (6) 38 Law J. Rep. (N.s.) Q.B. 6.

Rep. 1 Q.B. 18.

« EelmineJätka »