What is the law governing Tenancy Relations in India?
The Model Tenancy Act 2021 was enacted with the aim of establishing rent authorities to systematically regulate the renting of premises and also in order to protect the interest of the parties under the tenancy agreement, as well as to provide swift adjudication for the speedy resolution of tenancy law disputes, and protecting the interests of the lessor and lessees under the tenancy agreement, and matters connected with the agreement. It is a comprehensive act covering various domains governing tenancy law that shall be elaborated on in the article.
What are the rights vested to both the Lessor and Lessee?
Chapter 4 of the Model Tenancy Act 2021 lays down the rights provided to the lessor and lessee under the act. Both parties have the right to retain the Original Tenant Agreement, wherein it is stated that both the lessor and the lessee must sign the tenancy agreement in duplicate, and each party to the agreement must retain a copy of the tenant agreement.
What are the rights of the Lessor/Landlord?
The Landlord has the right to Remove Structures and Deduct Payment in case of Refusal to Repair in case the tenant refuses/fails to carry out required repairs, the landlord may carry out repairs pertaining to any additional structure erected by the tenant himself, and deduct such amounts payable by the tenant from the deposited security deposit under tenant agreement.
Also, the tenant has the duty to ensure that there is no negligent/intentional damage to the premises under his care and take reasonable care of the premises and contents thereto.
What are the rights of the Lessee/Tenant?
The lessee must be provided with a duly signed receipt with respect to the payment made by him/her. In the case of Electronic payment, a bank acknowledgement of payment shall suffice as a receipt.
In case the landlord refuses/fails to carry out required repairs, the tenant may carry out repairs, and deduct such expenditure payable by the landlord from the rent payable under the tenant agreement.
Further, in case the landlord refuses/fails to carry out required repairs, after being called upon to do so in writing by the lessee, the repairs being such without which the premises are uninhabitable, the lessee may abandon the premises post providing a notice fifteen days in advance.
Further, in case of an event of force majeure, the landlord should not charge rent until the restoration of premises to a habitable state.
Does the Lessee have a Right to Privacy?
The lessee has the right to privacy as has been stipulated indirectly under the Model Tenancy Act 2021 that lays down that in case a landlord wishes to enter the premises for any of the following reasons-
In order to carry out repair work or replacement work, or to get other work done on the premises
In order to carry out inspections of the premises to determine the habitability of the premises
For any other reasonable cause as enumerated under the Tenant Agreement
Is it mandatory to serve a notice before entering the premises?
The landlord or property manner in question is liable to serve a notice for entry, in writing or via electronic mode, to the tenant, at least 24 hours before the purported timing of entry to the premises.
Furthermore, the notice shall properly specify the date, timing, and reason for entry, stipulating that no person may enter the premises before sunrise, and post-sunset.
What to do if the lessee doesn't pay rent?
The Tenancy Law, under the Model Tenancy Act 2021 provides for the remedy in case the lessee does not pay the rent stipulated under the Tenant Agreement.
Tenancy laws lay down the grounds under which recovery of possession or eviction of the tenant can be done, stating that the landlord has two remedies against the lessee that does not pay rent-
Recovery of Possession of Property
Eviction of Lessee on Non-Payment
What are the circumstances in which tenants can be evicted?
The right of the landlord to evict can be invoked by the landlord in the following circumstances-
The tenant does not agree to pay the rent payable.
The tenant does not pay the arrears of rent payable or other charges payable in full.
What to do if the lessee wrongfully confines the house?
The Tenancy Law, under the Model Tenancy Act 2021 provides for the remedy in case the lessee wrongfully confines the house stating that in case the lessee fails to vacate the premises upon the expiration of the period provided under the tenant agreement, the following remedies are available to the landlord-
There is a provision for receipt of twice the monthly rent for the first two months of a breach.
There is a provision for receipt of four times the monthly rent for the months post the first two months of breach till the time the lessee continues to occupy the premises.
What to do if the lessor removes the lessee without notice?
The Tenancy Law states that the property manager has a duty to inform the lessee via notice regarding the vacation of premises. However, the lessee's most significant protection is the right to be spared from unjustified and unfair eviction. According to the precise grounds outlined in each State Rent Control Act, a landlord may evict a tenant. It is not thought to be adequate to evict a tenant for any reason other than those listed in the State Acts. Additionally, the aforementioned State Acts grant the tenant a right to protection in the event that their landlord forcibly evicts them for a cause not covered by the Act.
What are the different types of Tenant Agreements?
The following three forms of tenant agreements are most common in India-
Agreement for Leave & License
What is a Rent Agreement?
A Rent Agreement may be defined as a binding agreement that leads to the unification of the rights of a landlord and a lessee, who wishes to occupy property temporally.
What is stated in a Rent Agreement?
The contract lays down details, among other things, of the names of the parties involved, the description of the property, the agreed-upon rent amount, late payment fines, a grace period, the amount of the security deposit, the amenities that the tenant may or may not use, the availability of parking, maintenance and repair rights, and property insurance.
What is a Lease Agreement?
To minimise fluctuations in their consistent income, landlords generally prefer to lease their property. If the rental term is more than 90 days, a lease agreement is normally required.
What are the contents of a lease agreement?
According to the rules of the lease agreement, which is a contract between the landlord and the tenant, the renter is given permission to use the property in question for the designated time (generally more than 12 months). A lease, as opposed to a rental agreement, frequently binds the landowner and the tenant for a predetermined period of time. Some leases are valid for 99 years.
What is an Agreement for Leave & License?
The Indian Easement Act of 1882 governs the Leave and Licence Agreement, in contrast to lease and rent agreements. A leave and licence arrangement allows the licence holder to occupy the licensor's area. However, because the property was supplied in accordance with the Leave and Licensing agreement and not on the basis of tenancy, the property owner would be ineligible if this permission were not granted. In contrast to a lease, this form makes evicting the occupier easier. These agreements only grant "permission," never the right to occupy a space.
What are the forms of Tenancy Exploitation?
Tenancy Exploitation takes place by the landlords in various forms, such as non-compliance with stipulations in the tenant agreement, refusal to redevelop old and dilapidated structures within households and buildings, refusal to pay common area maintenance charges applicable in certain cases, etc.
What to do if a Tenant is Exploited?
The Model Tenancy Act 2021 has provided relief to the lessee with respect to various such issues. It remains to be seen if the Model Tenancy Act can be implemented in letter and spirit, paving the way for fair tenant agreements and protection of the rights enumerated and provided to parties under tenancy law.
What is a Rent Court under Model Tenancy Act?
Under the provisions of the Model Tenancy Act 2021, which provides for a three-tier quasi-judicial setup, comprising of the Rent Authority, Rent Court and Rent Tribunal, Section 33 of the Model Tenancy Act 2021, provides for ‘Rent Court’, stating that the prior approval of the State Government/Union territory Administration, the District Collector or District Magistrate shall appoint Additional Collector or Additional District Magistrate or an officer of equivalent rank to serve as the Rent Court for the purposes of this Act within his jurisdiction. The Rent Court adjudicates matters related to rent disputes. The complaints made before the rent court have to be mandatorily disposed of within a period of 60 days.
How do Rent Courts settle Tenancy Disputes?
The Rent Court or Rent Tribunal, depending on the situation, will set the date of the hearing and may conduct any summary inquiries that are deemed appropriate.
A maximum of sixty days from the day the application or appeal was received, the Rent Court or Rent Tribunal will make every effort to resolve the issue as quickly as practicable.
If the appeal could not be resolved within the allotted sixty days, the rent court or rent tribunal must give written justifications for not concluding the application or appeal during that time.
Every application or appeal made to the Rent Court must include the necessary witness testimony. The appeal, however, must be made within a period of 30 days of the order, as stated under Section 32 of the Model Tenancy Act 2021.
Further, to assist and facilitate disputes, as stated under Section 31 of the Model Tenancy Act 2021, the Rent Authority shall also be vested with the powers granted to the Rent Court, pertaining to any matter initiated under the provisions of the Model Tenancy Act 2021.
How a Tenant can file a suit under the Model Tenancy Act?
The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 shall apply to Rent Courts and Rent Tribunals, which shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. The act allows both landlord and tenant to file a case, with the following stipulations-
(a) The landlord or the tenant may file an application or appeal before the Rent Court or, as the case may be, the Rent Tribunal, along with an affidavit and documents, if any.
(b) The Rent Court or, as the case may be, the Rent Tribunal shall then issue notice to the opposite party, together with copies of the application or appeal.
(c) the opposite party shall file a reply accompanied by an affidavit and documents, if any, after serving a copy of the same to the applicant.
(d) the applicant may file a rejoinder if required.
Punishments or Compensations?
The orders made by the Rent Court under Chapter VII of the Model Tenancy Act, 2021, can provide for recovery of possession of property, and compensation in cases wherein the court computes damages accrued to either party under the Tenancy Agreement. Section 38 of the Model Tenancy Act, 2021 provides for the execution of orders made by the court, stating that the following deterrents can be legally ordered under the act
Attachment of one or more bank accounts of the defaulting or wrongdoing party, in order to recover the amount that has been specified in an order made.
Delivering the possession of the property in favour of whom the decision thereof has been stipulated.
Appointing relevant officials as well as competent persons to ensure the execution of orders under the act.
How to file a case against the landlord in case of harassment?
The first step one must take if a landlord is harassing the tenant(s) is to report the harassment to the police. By taking the actions listed below, one can file a police complaint against the landlord-
The tenant needs to go to the police station that has authority and jurisdiction in the matter/
Inform the police to file the complaint after reporting to the officer in charge or station house officer.
If there were any witnesses there, also include their names, and explain the relevance to the complaint.
If the information is provided over the phone, the tenant must visit the police station to register an F.I.R.
A copy of the FIR for use in subsequent procedures after filing it, must be carried by the tenant, in case the matter escalates further.
Landlord harassment has always been a major source of worry for tenants. Landlords often abuse their authority and subject tenants to various forms of harassment. Nonetheless, the tenants are specifically protected by the legislation of the Model Tenancy Act, 2021. Practically, almost every state has state-level laws and has granted tenants similar protections against various forms of landlord harassment. When a tenant is aware of their rights, they can live comfortably at the rental property. Thus, tenants must be mindful and aware of the various avenues they have under the law to seek recourse against the landlord.