What rights do landlords and tenants have in Sri Lanka, especially as to duration of contract, and eviction? 


Tenancy contracts are usually for no fixed period. A monthly tenancy (which is normal) is terminable at will, by either party, by the giving of one month's notice, and the rent is generally payable monthly.

Where the Rent Act applies, the law weighs heavily in favour of tenants, who can terminate a monthly tenancy at any time with a month's notice, while the landlord can only do so on the grounds specified in the Act which include the following:
  1. The rent is in arrears for a period of over one month.The premises are being used for immoral or unlawful purposes by the tenant.
  2. The premises are being used in such a manner as to cause substantial deterioration.
Several new grounds were introduced by an amendment to the Rent Act in 2002.

Upon the termination of a monthly tenancy or lease, if the tenant or lessee does not vacate the premises as required by the notice of termination, legal action for eviction becomes necessary.

In the case of a lease for premises not governed by the Rent Act, there is no restriction on the period of notice which the parties may agree, either as regards landlord's or tenant's notice. And unless there is a breach of the terms, covenants or conditions by either party, or the lease itself provides for termination, the lease cannot be terminated by either party without the agreement of the other.

A lease for a fixed term should be by deed notarially attested. If not so executed, it will amount to a monthly tenancy, and could be terminated by either party with a month's notice.