India’s property laws gained some clarity this year with RERA, but the country’s rental laws remain contentious.
In India, the Rent Control Acts are regulated by the state governments with the result that each state has its own rules and provisions.
Did you know? The Draft Model Tenancy Act 2015 is supposed to be an improvement on the Rent Control Act of 1948, which is still in force in India today.
As the tenant of an apartment, you may be paying rent on a regular basis, but if the rent contract is renewable every year, then the fear of being evicted and rent increase is constantly at the back of the mind.
It is true that now there are strong rules for the protection of tenant rights but as these cases, if submitted in court, take around 10 or more years for settlement, people generally try to sort it out among themselves. While a house owner has every right to evict a tenant that is not paying rent or time or using the house for illegal activities, there are some laws in place that protects the tenant as well.
Here are some of the essential laws that you need to be aware of if you are renting your place or if you are a tenant yourself.
1. Restriction of essential services – If a landlord disconnects access to essential amenities like water, electricity or common areas like the terrace, lawn etc., to recover rental dues or force the tenant to pay higher rent, then the landlord can be taken to the Rent Control Court. The landlord will have to restore essential services and enter into an amicable settlement of the matter with the tenant.
2. Restricted entry of landlord to rented premises – Once a lease agreement is signed and the tenant moves in, the landlord cannot enter or inspect the premises under any circumstances without the permission of the tenant.
3. Repairs under tenancy – If the house needs any repairs or structural additions to meet the needs of the tenant, then it has to be carried out by the house owner.
4. Subletting clause – To ensure that the tenant does not sublet the house to anyone else, the landlord can include a clause stipulating immediate evacuation if such an incident occurs.
5. Security deposit – The tenant has every right to extract the entire amount of security deposit given to the house owner within a month of evacuating the rented premises.
6. The tenant cannot be evicted without notice – Landlords have to give a formal eviction notice of not less than three months to the tenant if they want to evict him/her and not before, irrespective of circumstances. However, this can be done only on specific grounds or if the landlord wants the house for personal use.
7. Death of tenant – In-case of the tenant’s death, his legal heirs living with him can stay on in the premises for five years irrespective of all circumstances.
As laws leading to property disputes are archaic and it takes decades for court cases in India to settle, it is best to have a strong rental agreement that can protect the rights of both the owner and tenant.