In India, tenancy transactions i.e. the transaction between a landlord and a tenant is governed on the statutory level by the Rent Control Act on the national level. Numerous State-level Acts like the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, the Delhi Rent Control Act, the Tamil Nadu Rent Control Act, etc. were enacted along the lines of the national legislation with certain additions and modifications. These Acts state the rights, duties, and obligations of the tenant and landlord in a tenancy transaction and prescribes measures to resolve disputes between the parties.
A rental agreement entered into by a landlord and tenant contains the terms and conditions that regulate the interaction between the two parties and outlines the rights and obligations of the parties in clear, unambiguous words. This agreement states the term of the tenancy, the parties, the nature of their rights and obligations, the rent and how it has to be paid, the remedies the aggrieved party has against the erring party, and so on. This article highlights the remedies a landlord has against the tenant who has committed wrong or violated the rental agreement in India.
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How long can a tenant stay on the rental property in India?
The relationship between a landlord and a tenant is regulated by an agreement called the rental agreement. This agreement is a very important document that contains terms and conditions which are legally binding on the parties of a transaction. Some of the things the agreement mentions:
- The name of the parties and occupation
- The term or duration of the tenancy decided by the parties
- The details regarding the rental property and premises
- The rights and obligations of the landlord in relation to the property
- The rights of the tenant under the tenancy
- The rent consideration
- A rental hike clause
- The dispute resolution clause
- The remedies available to the landlord or tenant against the erring party
Thus, the term of the tenancy or for how long the tenant resides in the rental property and premises can be mutually decided between the parties and can be renewed after the term expires.
How can the landlord file a complaint against a tenant in India?
Many states in India like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc. that have their own Rent Control Acts which govern the tenancy transaction between a landlord and a tenant subject to the agreement between the parties.
- For a landlord to know what action s/he can take against a tenant, s/he needs to know the Rent Control Act of his or her state.
- For instance, in Maharashtra, the Rent Control Act is applicable and this Act provides for the appointment or establishment of a Competent Authority.
- This Competent Authority is appointed under Section 43 of the Act can receive applications from landlords and dispose of these applications according to statutory procedure.
- A landlord can make an application to the Competent Authority against the tenant subject to the authority having jurisdiction in the area where the premises are located.
What can a landlord do if a tenant refuses to move out of the property?
A tenant who uses the property according to the terms and conditions of the rental agreement pays the monthly rent on time is entitled to the property rights that vest in him or her. Over and above that, if a tenant carefully manages the rental property as if the homeowner would, then such tenant cannot be found at fault if the property is damaged by accident.
- However, if a tenant does not pay the rent on time or violates the rental agreement or damages the property due to negligence or misuses the property then the landlord can have the tenant evicted.
- If the tenant, however, refuses to move out or leave the rental property premises, then the landlord cannot himself or herself forcefully evict the tenant.
- The tenant has to submit an application along with fees to the Competent Authority appointed under the State’s Rent Control Act which has jurisdiction of the area where the rental premises are located.
- The Authority will issue summons to the tenant and once the summons has been received by the tenant and s/he intimates the Authority of such receipt, the Authority shall proceed to decide the application.
- The Authority can give leave to the tenant to contest this application of eviction submitted by the landlord in accordance with the procedure provided under the Act.
- If after hearing both sides, the Authority arrives at the conclusion that the tenant needs to be evicted off the premises, it can order the tenant to move out of the premises and return the possession of the property to the landlord.
- Even after this, if within the statutorily stipulated period of the final order of the Authority the tenant does not move out, then the Authority or a duly authorized officer can evict the tenant, with force if necessary.
What if the rental agreement is not renewed, will the owner lose rights?
In cases wherein the rental agreement contains a clause regarding the renewal of the agreement for a fixed term, it is assumed that the rental agreement continues automatically after the original rental period. However, to give it a legal effect, it is necessary that a new agreement is drafted evidencing the renewal and the renewal document needs to be registered, and stamp duty charges need to be paid. This point has also been highlighted by the court in the case Delhi Development Authority v Durga Chand Kaushish (1973). The Supreme Court has also highlighted the importance of a fresh agreement for the renewal of rent and leases.
The right of the owner will however not be effected on the expiry of the agreement and if the landlord wishes to evict the tenant, then they can do so by getting a court order to do so.
What are the damages that can be sought?
The landlord can also seek damages if:
- The rent is unpaid
- Utility bills are unpaid
- Damage has been caused to the property
- Any unauthorized alteration have been made on the property
- If the tenant more than the security deposit amount
- If the tenant has moved out illegally, then the cost to find new tenants
- If the property has been used for illegal activities, then damages for the same can also be sought.
While legislation in India governs the tenancy transaction between the landlord and the tenant in general, the parties to a tenancy can also record the relationship in a legal agreement. This legal agreement called rental agreement contains details of the parties, details of the rental property, the rights and obligations of the parties, the rent consideration, the remedies an aggrieved party has against the erring party so on and so forth.
If a tenant misuses the property or violates the rental agreement or conducts illegal or criminal activities on the rental premises, the landlord can get the tenant evicted and recover possession of the rental property. If the tenant in compliance with the landlord’s eviction notice moves out of the property, it is well and good. But if this is not the case, the landlord can apply to the Competent Authority who can find merit in the landlord’s application can get the tenant evicted.