Rent Control Act
In India, the capping of rent, rights of landlords, and the rights of tenants are governed by the Rent Control Act. This Act came into existence in 1948 and since then all the states in India have their own Rent Control Act, almost akin to one another with minute changes.
This act contains stringent provisions as regards real estate, as this promotes rental housing which impacts the construction of new residential or non-residential buildings. This Act aims at protecting the interests of the landlord and the tenant.
The need for rental housing is ever rising due to people moving from one state to another in search of jobs, education, business, etc. So, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs lays down certain points before one rents a property and for those who plan to reside in one.
This agreement creates a legal relationship between the landlord and the tenant. This agreement includes all the minute details and could be very brief or comprehensive. This is a ‘Legal Form’ which is to be duly signed by both parties. In India, oral contracts are not binding contracts and are not enforceable in case of a breach, hence written agreements are a must when entering into a contract.
The landlord is supposed to get the agreement registered and should submit a copy of the agreement to the tenant. And till then, the tenant is not supposed to pay any rent during that time until the contract is in place.
Rights of Tenant
- Unfair eviction: Under the Act, the landlord cannot force a tenant to vacate the premises without any reasonable cause. If the landlord has sufficient reason to do so, he should get a court order and is supposed to give reasonable time to the tenant. The laws related to eviction varies from state to state. According to some states, the tenant cannot be evicted if he or she agrees to the changes in the rent.
- Death of tenant: In case the tenant dies, then the remaining tenure of the tenancy period shall pass on to his legal heirs only if they were residing with him at that moment, otherwise the agreement would collapse immediately.
- Fair Rent: Tenants cannot be charged exorbitant amounts as rent, if charged they may seek redressal from the court. The rent charged is usually calculated by the total value of the building keeping into consideration the market value, cost of construction, and value of amenities.
- Essential Services: The tenant has the right to enjoy all the essential services such as water, supply, electricity, etc. And in no circumstances, the landlord can withdraw these services.
Rights of Landlord
- Right to Evict: The landlord has the right to evict the tenant in case they fail to pay the rent for two consecutive months. And in cases where the tenant makes any structural changes or parts ways without the written consent of the landlord or misuses the property, on notice they can be asked to vacate the premises.
- Right to charge rent: The landlord has the right to charge rent, and there is no upper limit albeit on the amount of rent to be charged but the landlord should explicitly state the same in the agreement that the rent would increase with such amount every year.
- Right to make repairs: The landlord has the right to make repairs to the property or improve the condition of the premises, noting that the tenant should be given a 24-hour notice and hence, the property should not be damaged.
Legal Remedies in case:
1. Rent not paid:
The landlord can send a notice to the tenant to vacate the premises, if they don’t then the landlord has the right to charge them twice the rent for the next two months and may increase it to four times if they don’t vacate even after 2 months. The landlord can reach out to the local rent authority to issue notice to vacate the building.
2. Property Damage:
Once the tenant moves in, he is responsible to maintain the property of his premises, in case he damages any of the property he should intimate the landlord then. In case the damage is severe, the landlord will deduct it from the security deposit. And then the tenant is supposed to pay back the amount within 30 days, if defaults then a complaint can be filed to the rent authority.
3. Security Deposit:
The tenant is supposed to pay 2 months rent as a security deposit which at the end of his tenancy period will be returned after deducting any damages if any. In case, the landlord defaults in paying back the amount, the tenant has the right to file a case to the local rent authority or to the rent court, which in return can impose simple interest over the remaining amount to be paid with the deposit.
4. Increase in rent:
If the landlord charges an exorbitant amount of rent, the tenant can file a complaint to the rent authority for further recourse.
Here are some historical cases relevant to Rent Control Act
Debasish Sinha v Sreejib Sinha & Ors (2020)
In this case, the tenant deprived the landlord of his property for 30 years without paying rent for the last 11 years was condemned by the SC and was slammed with a penalty of one lakh rupees as fine and was ordered to pay the due rent of the last 11 years as per the market rate within 3 months.
Damadilal & Ors v. Parashram & Ors, 1976 and Gian Devi Anand v. Jeevan Kumar & Ors, 1985
It is only non-payment of rent/arrears or discreet subletting, nuisance is the main grounds by which a landlord can evict the tenant. The legal heir of the statutory tenant is entitled to the same protection against eviction as provided to the tenant under the Delhi Rent Control Act.
In this case, the court stated that the landlord cannot evict any tenant not until the tenant has violated any of the terms in the agreement or has misused the premises, or has not paid rent for 2 months consecutively. And this applies to his legal heirs if they were living with the tenant and the tenant dies.
Dhanapal Chettiar vs. Yesodai Ammal (
The court held that advance notice should be given to the tenant regarding the rent increase. And the receipt for the payment of rent should be provided to the tenant, in addition to this, the court stated that the landlord cannot withdraw any of the essential services such as water, supply, electricity, etc. If the tenant makes default in payment of rent.