10 Tenancy Laws Every Landlord & Tenant Should Know

8 Sep 2021  Read 1390 Views

Indian government has established and approved the Rent Control Act, 1948 for the purpose of controlling rental costs and protecting tenants' rights against arbitrary eviction.  Landlords and tenants have specific rights that are protected by this law, which is enacted by the state's government. A few things a landlord and a tenant have to keep in mind while dealing with the process of renting out property, which includes written agreement, the amount of payable rent, security deposit, conditions regarding damage to the property during tenancy and so on.

Important Tenancy Laws

Following are some of the most important tenancy laws:

1. Presence of a Written Agreement

In order to protect the rights of both tenant and landlord, the presence of a written agreement between the two parties is highly crucial. As per the tenancy laws, the agreement shall be in writing and not an oral one since an oral agreement is not legally enforceable. The agreement shall also be signed by both the parties. 

After the agreement is signed by both parties, it is necessary to fill out a "Legal Form." While the original form is held by the landlord, copies are sent to each of his or her tenants. Furthermore, a tenant is under no obligation to pay rent unless and until the owner provides them with a copy of the agreement.

However, it is not recommended to not make rental payments while the agreement subsists to be in effect, as it is one of the rights of the landlord to ask the tenant to vacate the rented premises on the basis of non-payment of the rental due amount.

2. Maintenance of Property

Tenants and landlords share the responsibility for property maintenance, except in cases where an agreement states otherwise. For instance, until and unless both parties agree, one cannot tear down a wall as a tenant, and cannot renovate the property as the landlord.

It is possible for the sum to be removed from tenants' security deposits if they fail to pay for repairs, as well as from landlords' periodic rent if he/she refuses to pay for repairs.

3. Uninhabitable Conditions

There are certain conditions under which rental premises will be declared as inhabitable. The house is considered uninhabitable if the cost of maintenance exceeds 50% of the agreed rental cost. A 15-day written notification to the lessor is sufficient for tenants to leave their premises if an landlord declines to take action on it. For further action, a tenant might also appeal to the local Rent Authority.

4. Damage of Property during Tenancy 

It is the duty of the tenant to maintain the original condition of the rental premises, apart from the minimal wear and tear during the course of tenancy. No intentional or negligent harm shall be done to the rental premises and property, and in case such harm occurs, it is the duty of the tenant to communicate and notify the same to the landlord as soon as they discover the damage.

5. Eviction of Tenants

As per the tenancy laws, after a period of two months of non-payment, a tenant may be requested to vacate the premises.

Apart from that, if the tenants have abandoned the property (for an extended period of time), or if they are invading additional property, misusing it in order to create public annoyance for unlawful activities, or damage it, they can be legally asked to vacate the property. Furthermore, the landlords are entitled to double the monthly rent as compensation if the tenants fail to comply within the stated time frame.

6. Rent Payable

During a new lease, the landlord and tenant must come to an agreement on the rent to be paid as indicated in the written agreement. The landlord must notify the tenants three months in advance if the rent is being altered.

As a general rule, the chargeable rent is decided by the building's overall value which includes the market value of some land, construction costs, and amenities. But the percentage of this market value that can be charged as rent varies on a State-to-State basis.  

7. Need of Prior Notice for Landlord to Enter the Premises 

There is no way for the landlord to enter a rented property without 24 hours written notice, may it be for repairs, a house inspection, or any other cause indicated in the tenant's rental agreement.

It is immaterial whether the tenant(s) comprise a family or a group of bachelors renting the house, they must be notified regarding the arrival of the landlord in advance and the landlord is not allowed to perform a surprise inspection. En outre, the Model Tenancy Act specifies a seven-hour access window from 7 am to 8 pm. 

8. Security Deposit

Draft Model Tenancy states that it stands as illegal to charge a security deposit that is more than three times the monthly rent.  Though as with rent, the amount of the security deposit depends on State legislation, i.e. it can differ from State to State.

Furthermore, as per the Rent Control Act, a month after tenants vacated the property, it is the duty of the landlord to make payment regarding the security deposit back to the tenant. As soon as both parties have agreed, they might deduct the responsible amount from this before refunding the money.

9. Essential supplies

Residents have the right to essential services such as water and electricity as well as parking, communication and sanitation services. Neither the tenants nor the owners can cut off or withhold these services, even in cases when the rent is not paid or is due for some time. 

As a result of either party cutting off critical supplies, the local Rent Authority may intervene and launch an investigation, in addition to imposing a penalty on the offending party and compensating the injured party.

10. Demise of the Tenant

Upon the death of the tenant, the right of tenancy for the remaining time period, as per the provisions of the rental agreement, shall be liable to fall to his or her successor in the following order:

-Spouse

-Sons/unmarried daughters

-Parents

-Daughter in law (who is the widow of a predeceased son)

This is only legal if the successors were residing in or working in the demised tenant's apartment. As soon as one or more successors leave, the lease terminates instantly.

Conclusion

Tenancy laws can be highly complex and confusing but on the same hand, they are highly crucial to understand for both the landlord and the tenant in order to enter into such an agreement of tenancy and to avoid unnecessary disputes. These rules are based on the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs' Draft Model Tenancy, and they serve as broad principles to keep in mind while moving into or renting a new home or apartment.

About the Author: Sakshi Shrivastava | 15 Post(s)

Sakshi is a 3rd year student at Hidayatullah National Law University, with a keen interest in Corporate and Competition Laws. She describes herself as an extrovert known to be quite vexing!

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