Renting a place in India can be a very tedious task. With the spurting growth in job opportunities and need for a better lifestyle, people have started to move out from their hometowns and have started to occupy cities which offer them good opportunities. Therefore, the landlord-tenant legal relationship has become a big topic of discussions lately. The need for clear grounds of this relationship is quite an essential one because both the parties need to feel secure about their end of the transaction as the shelter is one of the most basic requirements. There are laws to secure this position so that neither party face violations of their rights. The tenants especially are given secured rights so that they are not prone to unnecessary threats of evection and hike in rent prices. They are, in return, supposed to observe certain duties for the benefit of the landlords.
The legal backing to the transaction is given by The Rent Control Act in India. There is a central Rent Control Act which was passed in the year 1948 by the Indian Government to provide secure tenancy periods and remove unnecessary eviction threats for tenants. Keeping this central act in mind the states have their own tenancy act and a few places like Maharashtra, Karnataka have made requisite modifications to theirs. On observation of each of these Acts, they appear to be more tenants favoring. In light of the protection of landlords to a greater edge, a Draft Model Tenancy Act 2015 was designed. It also has reformed clauses to protect eviction and rent revision for the tenants. Transfer of Property Act, 1882, also judges the rights of the parties involved herein.
Legal Status of Tenants:
A tenant is mostly a contractual one. This means that a clear contract or a Rent Agreement is signed between the tenant and the landlord. This document contains details of both the parties, the fixed rent, accepted payment method, fixed payment dates, increment rates, etc. When the tenure for which the contract was agreed upon ends and yet the tenant is in possession of the rented place, the tenant is called a statutory tenant. If then the tenant exercises the clause of increasing the tenancy period, in accordance with the original agreement, the statutory tenant again becomes a contractual tenant.
The concept of collecting security deposits from the tenants is an important practice. It lays many duties on the tenant. This is because this deposit is what is going to be used in case the tenant causes any damage to the rented property or breaks any appliances, etc. provided by the landlord as part of the property. Thus, the tenant shall be duty bound to maintain the property in possession like their own. This deposit is to be returned as it is, provided the tenants did not create any unnecessary damages, at the end of the tenancy period. Thus, the tenants are duty bound to secure the landlords towards the transaction. In return, the landlord has to make sure that he has kept the tenants well aware of the state in which the property in question is before the signing of the agreement.
This deposit also keeps the tenants on toes to pay the rent on time and to give proper notice period before leaving the rented property.
General Rights of Tenants:
The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, has also enlisted certain rights for the benefits of tenants. They broadly are: right to get repairs done to the property rented, in case the property becomes unfit for continuing tenancy for reasons of floods, fire, army etc. the right to terminate the agreement, right to use the property as his own but not to lease out the same to others without express agreement, and in return, he has the duty to not make any permanent changes like the construction of a structure or the like, to the landlord’s property.
Right to a Fair Rent Amount:
The amount of rent charged is generally fixed to be a certain percentage of the entire property of which the rented property is a part. This is in accordance with the terms of the Rent Control Act. Thus, a rent which does not follow the standard system is unfair and the party can approach the court to fix a fair price subject to the age of the building, depreciation in value, etc. Further, the rate of increment in rent has to be a clause previously fixed in the rental agreement. It cannot be unjustified and cannot happen until the time decided to make such an increment.
Getting paid the rent on time is a right of the landlord. But if suppose the tenant has not paid the rent on time, the landlord can send him reminders and notices but cannot go down to cutting off supplies of basic amenities of the property like electricity, water supply, etc. if the landlord is threatening to do so, it is wrong in law and can raise cause of action against the landlord. To get matters peacefully sorted the only recourse the landlord has is to approach appropriate rent control court to get the tenant evicted without any hassle.
Right to privacy and peaceful enjoyment of the rented property is another right of the tenant. The landlord cannot simply enter the property and leave at his own free will without the permission of the tenant as the tenant is the legal possessor of the property and it is under his rights to administer people in or out of the property.
Further, it is the duty of the landlord to act responsibly towards the tenant's demands of getting certain repairs, etc. done to the property in question, provided the demand is reasonable. If the landlord fails to do it and the tenant has to pay for the task instead, he can reimburse himself from the fixed rent amount by showing appropriate bills for the transactions done.