Can the payment of quit rent, assessment rates, electricity and water bills be used to prove ownership of property?
HS REALTY SDN BHD v. YOW HONG SOON  1 LNS 230
- HS Realty Sdn Bhd (“New Owner”) is the registered proprietor of a piece of land in Pulau Pinang (“Said Land”).
- Prior to its purchase, the New Owner had conducted a search at the land office which revealed that the Said Land was free of encumbrances and/or had no registered interest from any other party on the title.
- The New Owner had purchased the Said Land from one Senitrad Sdn Bhd who had earlier purchased it from one Continental Star Sdn Bhd.
- Yow Hong Soon (“Yow”) is in occupation of a building which partly stands on the Said Land (“Said Premise”).
- The New Owner issued a notice to quit on Yow and demanded vacant possession of the Said Premise via a court case (“Suit”).
- Yow denied any knowledge of New Owner’s title and stated that he has been renting the Said Premise from one Chuah Eng Chang @ Chuah Eng Chong (“Chuah”).
- Chua wishes to be joined as a party to the Suit pending approval from the court.
- Yow further alleged that Chuah is the owner of the Said Premise and Said Land.
- Chuah alleged that he has a requisite interest in the Suit and should be joined as a party to the Suit and produced the sale and purchase agreement (“SPA”) which showed that his father had purchased the Said Land (and rights thereunder were thereafter assigned to him by virtue of a deed of assignment) and evidence showing that he continued paying the quit rent for the Said Land and Said Premise.
HIGH COURT DECISION – APPLICATION TO BE JOINED AS A PARTY DISMISSED!
- Payment of quit rent, assessment rates, electricity and water bills cannot be used to show ownership of land. The Court held further that anyone can go and pay the same as is usually done by those in occupation, either by way of lease, or rent or by sheer squatting.
- The High Court came to the conclusion that Chuah did not have the requisite interest to be joined as a party in the Suit.
- This was because the court found that the SPA was not an outright sale but a conditional one subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions which include, amongst others, the subdivision of title, failing which Chuah’s father was only left with an option to take a lease of the Said Land as provided in the SPA.
- Since the lease was also not reflected on the document of title, the court held that the search at the land office is irrefutable proof that no such subdivision and the alleged sale and purchase ever took place.