The Eviction of a Tenant Prior to The Lapse of An Annual Lease

Concerning the person who rents a house for a full year, pays two months’ rental and then the landlord deems it fit to evict him therefrom before one year is completed, the Shaykh (al-Gharyānī) wrote:

“It is not permissible for him, since the Muslims are bound by their conditions. The lessee, if he leaves the house, is entitled to sue him for compensation for the usufruct (manfa`ah) he missed out on.”

I (= al-Majjājī) commented:

“This reply includes aspects in need of elucidation. Lease of property, as with the other varieties of lease, is in fact one of the binding contracts, in the sense that the parties are bound to comply with its contents, unless the stipulated benefit is prevented by a supervening impossibility of performance, in which event the contract is rescinded on that ground, e.g. the collapse of a building, the death of a riding animal, or a rented car turning into scrap.

As for the Shaykh’s statement “since the Muslims are bound by their conditions”, it lacks precision from a juristic viewpoint, since that is something we say about contractual clauses parties consensually agree upon, not about legally imported clauses necessitated by the contract. Unless the meaning of “conditions” in the sentence is the contents of the contract, i.e. the stipulation that the period of lease should be one year and the rental such-and-such.

Turning now to the quid pro quo the Shaykh made the lessee entitled to sue the landlord for, what is meant by it, I wonder? If he means returning to the lessee the rentals he paid for those months of tenancy he was prevented from enjoying by his early eviction, that is something obvious: once he has been deprived of the usufruct agreed upon, he is obligatorily entitled to be refunded any rental he might have paid in return for it. If, instead [and in our view that is the probable interpretation], he meant some other compensation for the detriment he suffered by being deprived of his right of occupancy, even though the lessor never received from him any rental beyond the first two months, that is something prescribed by secular systems of law yet impermissible in the Revealed Law. There is no doubt that the Shaykh does not mean this, but I wished to shed light on his intended import lest it be understood in this unsound manner; and Allah knows best.”

A healthy example of excellent good manners in refuting an error. - Note by translator; ( Ahmad Ali Al-Adani)