The term tenancy can be defined as the right to possess or occupy land, building, or property through a lease or payment of rent. Currently, there are two types of tenancies in India:

  • Lease Agreements which are covered by rent control laws
  • Lease and License Agreement which are not covered by rent control laws

The term lease has been defined under Chapter V, Section 105 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 as the transfer of the rights in a property for a specific period for an amount promised as consideration for the transaction. The agreement to make the transfer can be made impliedly or expressly. The consideration under the section can be money, a share of crops, service, or any other thing of value and needs to be given periodically on a specific occasion or date by the transferee to the transferor. We can draw certain ingredients from section 105 of the Act. Some of these ingredients have been mentioned under:

  • Transfer of right in the property or interest is created in the favor of the transferee or the lessee.
  • Duration of a lease
  • A valid consideration needs to be paid to the lessor by the lessee.

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What are your rights as a tenant with a lease in India?

All the terms of the agreement must be mentioned under the lease agreement. The Transfer of Property Act enshrines the tenant with the lease, certain rights and these have been listed below:

  • Right to a house that is fit to be lived in:

This is one of the basic rights of the tenant. They have the right to be provided a home that is fit and is safe to reside in. Conditions such as holes in the floor, plaster coming down from the ceiling, bad wiring, etc. are considered unsafe and thus unfit for residence. Thus it becomes the duty of the landlord to ensure that the property meets the minimum requirements for living.

  • Right to be fully informed:

The law also demands that the lessor disclose all the relevant facts regarding the property under section 108 of the Transfer of Property Act. The tenant should be informed about various conditions and the terms of the contract that he or she is entering. The agreement is only to be signed if both of the parties consent towards the term of the contract.

The deed becomes valid in the eyes of law after the consent has been acquired from both parties.  It is recommended that both parties should maintain a copy of the agreement under all circumstances. The tenant is also entitled to the contact details of the landlord such as the telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc. and can contact the landlord at any point in time.

  • Right to privacy and the right to essential utilities.

The tenant has the right to privacy under the law. The landlord is not permitted to enter the property without prior intimation unless it is a case of an emergency such as fire, etc. The tenant has the right to peacefully enjoy the property and to be protected from the landlord’s interference in the property.

It is also considered unlawful for the landlord to disconnect essential services such as electricity and water. It is also unlawful to restrict the use of common amenities to recover the rental dues or for any other purposes. If the landlord restores to such practices, then the tenant is free to approach a Rent Control Court to restore the essential services and act against the landlord.

  • Right against unlawful eviction:

If the landlord evicts the tenant without any lawful reason, then the tenant may issue a notice at first to the landlord requiring him to provide the details of the bank account to deposit the rent. If the landlord denies responding, then you may send the rent to the landlord via money order. If all these attempts fail then, the tenant is required to apply to the Rent Control Court to deposit further rents in court.

Willful default in rent payment, subletting without the prior consent, causing a nuisance, or when the landlord himself requires premises for personal occupation are some of the grounds under which the landlord can evict under the Rent Control Act. The landlord also owes a duty to provide a notice to the tenant about the termination of the tenancy and also to give back the amount claimed by him as the deposit on the property.

  • Rent:

The landlord is not permitted to increase the rent before the expiry of the agreed term in the agreement. The law also provides a formula for calculating the percentage increase.  It is also to be noted that all the homes that are let out for rent contain a Building Energy Rating (BER) which gives the tenant the details about how energy-efficient the home is. This will help them to compare the house and the prices while selecting the property.

  • Other rights:

The tenant has the right to claim for any repair works carried out on the property which was the responsibility of the landlord. The tenant is also permitted to have visitors stay overnights or for a short period unless it has been expressly forbidden according to the tenancy agreement. However, the landlord must be informed about the same. The landlord can also not force the tenant to extend the dates of their tenancy. As the tenant, you have the right to leave the property when you wish to by providing a valid reason.

According to the Rent Control Act, the legal representatives of the tenants are also eligible to claim the protection and benefits available. In cases of any dispute arising, the tenant may apply with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being charged for the same. Thus summing up, the tenants must know their rights to protect the same. They need to be well informed about their rights and the ways to safeguard their rights on the property.