Property disputes are one of the most recurring disputes that arise. There are disputes regarding the inheritance, possession, rent, etc. The most common disputes that arise are between tenant and owners regarding the rights possessed to each party, and the rights that are awarded at the time of tenancy of the property.
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Does paying property tax to give ownership in India?
Usually, people are required to pay property tax over the property that they can claim ownership to. The owner of a property is liable to pay the tax that is levied by the local body called property tax. However, there is a question that arises, of whether paying property tax can give ownership over a property to a person.
Generally, it is seen that the payment of property taxes alone is never sufficient to give taxpayer ownership rights over a property. Paying property tax over a property in which another person has the title does not entitle a person to claim ownership over the property.
A person can always pay someone else’s property taxes. However, it is an allegory that paying taxes on someone else’s property allows a person to become the owner of the property. Therefore, paying someone else’s property taxes with the hope of easy ownership yields no benefits at all. The deductions that are available for these expenses cannot be claimed, as only the true owner of the property can claim them.
Is rent paid in advance in India?
Before deciding the manner in which rent is to be collected by the landlord, it is important to categorize the accommodation. The rental property which is offered by the landlord may either be a pay and stay rental property or stay and pay rental property. In pay and stay property, the rent amount is collected before the initiation of tenancy, whereas in a stay and pay property, the landlord obtains the rent amount before the tenancy terminates. In India, most property owners offer rental property on pay and stay basis.
The landlords have the decision of deciding when the rent amount is to be paid. Since many leases begin on the first of the month, it is likely that the rent installments would also be expected by the landlord from the tenant at the dusk of every month. Manner of payment by the preceding tenants also factors into the decision of when the rent is to be paid. Paying rent at the beginning of the month gives the landlord the assurance that the tenant would be paying for their stay. It is essential to have the manner and method of payment written in the rental agreement in order to prevent confusion in the payment of the rent amount.
At times, the rental agreement that exists between the landlord and the tenant may state that the rent of the previous month would be paid in the next month. It is again, at the discretion of the landlord to determine when the rent amount would be collected from the tenant.
Can tenants become owners in India?
No, a tenant in any given situation can never claim title over the property. The settled law in cases of tenants claiming ownership over rental property is ‘once a tenant, always a tenant’. In no situation can a tenant claim ownership so long as the actual owner of the property is still receiving rent over the property. In case the tenant stops paying rent, the owner should immediately file for an eviction petition.
Passage of time does not change the status of a tenant of property into ownership. If it were so, tenants would refuse to vacate any property and owners will not allow anyone to stay beyond a certain time.
Does a tenant living somewhere for more than 30 years have a right to ownership in India?
No, a tenant continues to remain in the property in his capacity as a tenant for all thirty years, that is, in this relationship vis-a-vis the landlord.
Possession under lease or license agreement is generally not considered as adverse possession, and the tenant cannot claim ownership right over the property. Lease or license agreement comes with the exception of adverse possession within the ambit of “permissive possession”. Passage of time does not change the status of a tenant of property into ownership. If it were so, tenants would refuse to vacate any property and owners will not allow anyone stays beyond a certain time.
The doctrine of adverse possession is a concept through which ownership of a property is transferred to another individual if it can be proved that there is actual and continuous possession. Continuous possession, in this case, refers to the absence of ownership of the property by the landlord, i.e., the tenancy has dawned and the tenant has refused to vacate from the property premises and the owner of the property has not taken active efforts to vacate the tenant from the premises.
Permissive possession is not hostile to the interest of the owner. Thus, it does not fulfill the elements of adverse possession. As long as the owner has consented to the stay of the tenant, it cannot claim adverse possession. However, the tenant can claim adverse possession if there was any breach of contract or any action of the owner which proves that permissive possession was ceased. Thus, if the contract is terminated by either of the parties, the clock would start clicking. If the tenant does not vacate the property within 12 years or if an owner does not claim its ownership rights then the tenant can claim adverse possession after completion of 12 years.
However, one needs to be cautious about the implied contract. If, after termination, the owner accepts the rent from the tenant, then under section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act it would be considered as a lease agreement. It would discard the claim of adverse possession.
What are the rights of a tenant?
There are numerous instances of harassment either by a landlord towards the tenant or vice-versa. It is important that the tenants be aware of their rights so that they can protect themselves from the landlord in case of any trouble.
- A tenant has the right to a house that is fit to be lived in. Unsafe conditions, such as holes in the floor, plaster coming down from the ceiling, bad wiring, and the like are considered unfit. It is the landlord’s responsibility to see that the house meets the minimum standards of accommodation.
- As per the law, a tenant should be fully informed of all the contents, terms and conditions of the contract and only upon the consent of the tenant can the agreement be signed by both the parties which then becomes a valid document.
- Both the parties will have to maintain a copy of each of the agreements all the time. The tenant is also entitled to have appropriate contact information (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.) and the landlord can be contacted at any point in time.
- The tenant has the right to privacy. The landlord cannot walk into the house without prior permission or information unless there is a true emergency like a fire or a flood in the bathroom.
- It is considered unlawful for a landlord to disconnect essential services such as electricity and water or restrict a tenant from using common amenities for recovery of rental dues or for other reasons. If a landlord executes any such brutalities, the tenant can approach the Rent Control Court to restore essential services and act against the landlord.
- If the landlord harasses the tenant by asking to evict the premises without any lawful reason and fails to accept rent, the tenant can first issue a notice in writing to the landlord, asking for details of a bank into which the tenant can directly deposit the rent to the credit of the landlord. If the landlord fails to respond, the rent can be sent via money order to the landlord. If this attempt to pay the rent also fails, the tenant must immediately file an application before a Rent Control Court to deposit further rents in court.
- As far as eviction is concerned, the landlord would have to file a petition before the competent Rent Control Court to seek eviction of the tenant. Under the Rent Control Act, landlords can evict tenants only under specific grounds, which include wilful default in rent payment, subletting without the prior consent, causing nuisance or when the landlord himself requires premises for personal occupation.
- The tenant is entitled to reimbursement for any repairs that he/she carries out that are the landlord’s responsibility.
- The tenant is entitled to have visitors to stay overnight or for short periods unless specifically forbidden in the tenancy agreement. The landlord must be informed if the tenant has an extra person moving in.
- The tenant is entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of tenancy.
It can be seen that the payment of property tax does not mean that the person paying the tax is the owner of the property. A person can always pay someone else’s property taxes. The deductions that are available for these expenses cannot be claimed, as only the actual owner of the property can claim them. It is observed that there are a lot of important rights that both a landlord and the tenant have. These rights have to be clearly stated in the rental agreement which is signed between both the parties. This will ensure that there is a decrease in the number of complaints and lawsuits that can be filed by either party.