TOURISM and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela has denied owing an owner of a warehouse in Kawambwa unpaid rentals of over K300,000, arguing that he is up to date with payments.

This is a matter in which Charles Mpundu, a proprietor of Plot No. 291 in Kawambwa, Luapula Province, has sued Chitotela in the Lusaka High Court claiming the sum of K397,000 due to him for unpaid rent relating to the said property.

He also wants an order for vacant possession of the said Plot No. 291 in Kawambwa, interest, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.

Mpundu had stated that Chitotela was a tenant of the said premises having leased a warehouse on the said land from September 2017.

He added that as at the date of issuance of the Writ, Chitotela had accrued lease rentals to the extent of K397,000 and which continues accruing at K16,000 per month.

But in his defence filed in the Lusaka High Court, Chitotela argued that he was up to date with the rental payments.

He stated that the said leased property was the former ZCBC shop turned into a warehouse and that it was a term of the oral agreement that he should renovate the building and provide security.

Chitotela added that by an oral agreement made between himself and Mpundu, the property was leased at an agreed rent of K50,000 per annum for five years.

He stated that the agreed rent was as stated above and that the property could not be rented at K16,000 per month as it was a run-down structure.

Chitotela further stated that he was not served with the Statutory Notice to quit and that he has not defaulted on any installment as the lease expires in August 2022.

“The defendant (Chitotela) will aver that he is up todate with rental payments. A total of K250,000.00 has been collected by the plaintiff from the defendant for a lease period of five years,” he stated.

Chitotela argued that Mpundu could not take over possession of the property until after August 2022 when the verbal lease agreement expires.

He denied being indebted to Mpundu in any amount whatsoever and further stated that Mpundu was not entitled to all the claims he was seeking.

In his statement of claim, Mpundu had stated that the said property was leased at an agreed rent of K10,000.

He claimed that the rent was pegged at K10,000 after Chitotela’s pleas to reduce the rent from K16,000 at which it was pegged with his previous tenants.

Mpundu stated that by a letter dated April 15, 2019, he advised Chitotela of his decision to increase the rent to K16,000.

“By Statutory Notice to quit issued on or about November 25, 2019, the plaintiff (Mpundu) did give the defendant (Chitotela) the statutory six months notice to vacate the said demised premises on the ground that the defendant had persistently defaulted attending to payment of rent,” read the claim.

“As at the date of issuance of the said notice, the defendant was indebted to the plaintiff to the extent of K221,000.”

Mpundu stated that he demanded for payment of K221,000 by a letter dated November 19, 2019 but despite that, Chitotela had failed or neglected to attend to payment of the accrued rentals.

He stated that he was now desirous of taking possession of the demised premises and recover the accrued rentals.

Mpundu added that as at the date of issuance of the Writ, Chitotela had accrued lease rentals to the extent of K397,000.