When it comes to the ownership of residential property and premises, a homeowner enjoys certain proprietary rights that allow him or her to enjoy, use, earn income from and dispose of the property in a manner s/he deems fit. Whether the property is self-occupied by the owner, let out for rent to tenants, or leased out to lessees, it is the homeowner who enjoys and exercises the primary rights on the property.
There are several homeowners who are not aware of subsidiary rights that come bundled with these primary rights. There are several laws legislated by the Indian Parliament and various state legislatures for the benefit of homeowners with respect to their residential property. These rights may not be absolute and have some qualifications when it comes to encumbrances on these rights, but nonetheless, they serve to supplement the ownership rights of the owner to protect his or her proprietary interests in the residential property.
These primary and secondary rights of a homeowner come along with the property and only vest in the homeowner until s/he chooses to vest these rights with qualifications in an agent or person of his or her choosing. This article deals with some significant rights enjoyed by the homeowner which s/he should be aware of.
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Right to Inspect premises
When a homeowner/landlord lets out his or her residential property for rent, s/he gives certain rights in the property like the right to possession, right to occupy, right to privacy, and quiet use of the property to the tenant.
- These rights are subject to qualifications and the landlord in return receives monetary consideration in the form of rent every month or quarter.
- The tenant receives rights in the residential property like the right to possession, right to occupy, right to privacy, and quietly use a certain portion of property and premises and the landlord receives rent for giving such rights to the tenant.
Due to the nature of property rights vested in the tenant being subservient to the ownership rights that vest in the landlord, the landlord despite detaching certain rights from his or her ownership still retains primary ownership rights on the property.
- Section 28 of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999 entitles a landlord in Maharashtra to inspect his or her residential premises let out to a tenant/s or leased to a lessee/s after giving such tenant/lessee/occupier a prior notice of the inspection.
- There is also a condition that such inspection is to be conducted at a reasonable time after giving the tenant/lessee/occupier prior notice.
- This is because even though the homeowner has the right to inspect the premises to evaluate the condition of the property occupied by the tenant, such right is encumbered or restricted by the rights of the tenant that s/he has in the property.
- For instance, the right to privacy of a tenant restricts a landlord from simply barging into the house to inspect it.
- The tenant is responsible for maintaining his or her portion of the property that s/he occupies and the landlord is entitled to inspect these premises under the law in Maharashtra.
- The clear demarcation of rights and obligations of the landlord and tenant can be outlined in the rental agreement between these two parties. In this case, the landlord need not seek refuge under statutory provisions but can resort to using the contract to enforce his or her rights.
Right to undertake repairs of premises
A landlord and tenant can contract with each other to allocate certain rights, obligations, and responsibilities in relation to the usage of the residential property.
- The tenant may be entitled to the possession, right of occupancy, right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the property during the tenancy period.
- However, the landlord and tenant may contract to occasionally permit the landlord to enter the premises under the tenancy to undertake repairs and modifications to ensure the structural integrity of the residential property.
- There are statutory provisions wherein the absence of an agreement between the tenant and landlord, the landlord under Section 14 of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act is obligated to undertake repairs. Section 14 is to be applied in spite of there being other statues that are contrary to its application.
- Where the landlord does not undertake his obligation of making repairs, the tenant can make repairs and deduct the actual expenses incurred by the tenant from the rent payable to the landlord.
- In case of any major repairs undertaken by the landlord, the landlord is entitled to increase the rent on such premises and receive such rent from the tenant.
Right to access to provide services to premises
The landlord and tenant can contract to permit the landlord, his or her agents, representatives and workmen access to the premises to provide essential services that allow the property to be enjoyed and used by the tenant to its fullest extent.
- Even if there is no agreement, the landlord has an obligation to ensure the provision of essential services like electricity and water services to ensure that there is no inconvenience caused to the tenant.
- The landlord provides these services to the tenant because s/he also takes rent for these services provided.
What are the remedies available if rights are not honored?
If the rights extended to the homeowners by the law are not honored, then the homeowner can approach the court under the following laws to claim damages or injections.
Consumer Protection Act,1986 (CPA)
The homeowners can file a petition in the Consumer Courts or Consumer Forum in cases of delay in handing over the possession of the property. The homeowner can also make a complaint with the forum in cases of deficiency in the services provided by the builder of the property.
Real Estate Regulation Act, 2016 (RERA)
The Real Estate Regulation Act, 2016 (RERA) is a specialized law that is applicable in the Rea Estate sector. The main aim behind the enactment was to address the grievances of the buyers and to bring about transparency and accountability in the services carried out by the builders. The Act also envisages the importance of establishing Real Estate Regulatory Authorities in every state to redress any grievances of homeowners. The Act also provides for a refund in cases of default in the delivery of the property. The Act also provides for penalties in the form of damages.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC)
Homeowners have been treated as financial creditors according to the amended Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. According to the amended provisions, now homeowners are capable of initiating a Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) against the builder company, under Section 7 of IBC.
Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1999
The provisions of this Act finds applicability only in case of an “arbitration clause”. The parties can imbed an arbitration clause in their contract and choose to resolve any dispute that may arise in the future using the provisions of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act of 1999.
In cases of any breach in the contract between the homeowner and the builder, then he may opt to file a suit in a civil court and claim refund or damages on the loss incurred by him according to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
In cases of crimes such as cheating, etc., a criminal remedy can also be sought.
The homeowner is entitled to several secondary rights that supplement the owner’s ownership rights in the property. When the homeowner becomes a landlord by letting out the premises to the tenant, s/he becomes entitled to rent and has to provide the tenant certain rights to the property in exchange. By entering into an agreement with the tenant, the landlord can have the rights and obligations of the parties clearly outlined and can also have a dispute resolution clause to resolve disputes between the landlord and the tenant.
The tenant’s rights on the property are subservient to the landlord’s ownership rights and can be outlined in an agreement. However, the rights and obligations of a tenant and a landlord in the absence of agreement are subject to the statutory provisions that regulate the transaction between the landlord and tenant and the levy of the rent for the tenancy rights.