- GOODLIVING REAL ESTATE PRIVATE LIMITED (2) JEROME NDUBISI OKEKE
SUPREME COURT OF ZIMBABWE
ZIYAMBI JA, GARWE JA & PATEL JA
HARARE, OCTOBER 14, 2013
L Uriri with T E Toto, for the appellants
Mr C W Gumiro, for the respondent
GARWE JA: After hearing counsel, this Court was of the unanimous decision that the appeal had no merit and consequently dismissed it with costs. It was indicated at the time that the full reasons for the decision would be made available in due course. These are they.
The background to the dispute giving rise to the appeal is as follows. In March 2010, the respondent entered into an agreement with the appellants for payment of what the parties termed “a commitment fee” in respect of premises undergoing renovations at stand Number 151 Mbuya Nehanda Street, Harare. It appears from the papers that a tendency has arisen in the housing market where prospective tenants seeking rental space in buildings where there is a high demand for such space are requested by the lessor to pay what is variably termed “a commitment fee”, “goodwill of the rental space” or “lease preference fees”. The purpose of such a fee is to enable the prospective tenant to be given first priority in concluding a lease agreement in respect of the premises once they are available for occupation. Without payment of such a fee, a prospective tenant would stand little, if any, chance of even being considered for possible occupation of the premises.
In terms of the agreement entered into between the parties, the respondent agreed to pay the total sum of $35,000 as “goodwill” in respect of the premises in question. It is common cause the premises in question were undergoing renovations. The respondent paid the sum of US$10,000 as a deposit to the second appellant on 11 March 2010, leaving a balance of $25,000 which was to be paid once the renovations were complete. Once the balance of the $25,000 was paid, the parties were then to agree on the amount of rental payable per month.