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Landlord Tenant Issues and the main features of the New Tenancy Act

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After the partition Delhi saw a huge influx of migrants and the Government was forced to ease rules for the migrants and to re-settle thousands of migrant and the laws were in favour of protecting economically weaker section of the society even for those who cannot pay rent or apply for loan.  

By Kiran Bhardwaj

Earlier, the law which was applicable to Delhi was New Delhi House Rent Control Order, 1939, or the Delhi Rent Control Ordinance, 1944, or the Delhi and Ajmer Marwara Rent Control Act, 1947, or  the Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control Act, 1952(38 of 1952) or the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. The main purpose of introducing the Rent Control Act, 1958 in India is to protect the rights of tenants, give them security and restricts the landlords in their ability to evict their tenants. The relations between the landlords and tenants in the NCT of Delhi are governed by the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 and got President assent on 31.12.1958 and thereafter, various amendments were passed. The said Act aims to protect the tenant from paying more than the standard rent and to protect the tenant from unilateral evictions and also provide rates of hotels and lodging houses, and for the lease of vacant premises to Government, in certain areas in Delhi. Then, the Delhi Rent Act, 1995(Act 33 of 1995) receive the assent of the President on 23.8.1995. The Delhi Rent Act, 1995 provided for the regulation of rents, repairs and maintenance and evictions relating to premises and of rates of hotels and lodging houses in the NCT of Delhi. Now as per “The Model Tenancy Act, 2019” yet to be notified by the Government, establishes the Rent Authority for regulating renting of premises in an efficient and transparent manner and to balance the interests of owner and tenant by establishing adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal and Rent Authority to decide the issues with regard to landlord and tenant issues. The Model Tenancy Act is applicable in prospectively.

The main highlights of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 is that when a person takes a habitable house or shop for rent as a tenant, the landlord cannot vacate the rented premises by using force. To evict the tenant, the landlord has to follow legal procedure. The Landlord  can fix a standard rent of premises and in case there is no standard rent fixed under the provisions of the Act, the rent agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant will be applicable. If the rent is less than Rs. 3500/- then rent control Act is applicable and case is filed before Rent Control Court and if more than 3,500/- then Transfer of Property Act,1882 is applicable and landlord can file a suit for possession in Civil Court without giving any notice u/s. 106 Transfer of Property Act. (as per judgment in the case of Dhanapal Chettiar vs. Yesodai Ammal ([1980] 1 S.C.R. 334 = AIR 1979 SC 1745). An advance notice has to be given to the tenant to increase the rent and the tenant is entitled for the receipt of the rent payment. The main protection given to the tenants are that the essential services like electricity, water cannot be cut by the landlord. A tenant cannot be arbitrarily asked by a landlord to vacate his premises. It is only non-payment of rent/arrears or discreet subletting, nuisance are the main grounds by which a landlord can evict the tenant. Legal heir of statutory tenant are entitled to same protection against eviction as affordable to tenant under the Delhi Rent Control Act.  It is a settled law in the judgments as reported in the case of Damadilal & Ors v. Parashram & Ors, 1976 (4) SCC 855 and Gian Devi Anand v. Jeevan Kumar & Ors, 1985 (2) SCC 683, that statutory tenancies under both- commercial and residential tenancies can be inherited.

The tenant to be in possession of the rented premises has to raise a triable issue before the Ld. Court or on the main ground that the Landlord has another property in his possession and the rented property is not required for a genuine or bonafide purpose. 

To evict the tenant, the landlord has to file an application before the Court or Rent Controller in the prescribed manner, to make an order for the recovery of possession of the premises where the tenant has not paid arrears of the rent within 2 months of the date on which a notice of demand for the arrears of rent has been served on him or where the tenant has used for a purpose other than for which was rented or sub-let or parted with the possession of the premises without obtaining the  consent in writing of the landlord or the property has not been used for a period of six months by the tenant or the premises are required for bona fide purpose by the landlord. The Landlord can also move eviction petition if the premises have become unsafe or unfit for human habitation or to re-build or to do alterations/additions to the building or repairs or the tenant has caused damage or misuse the premises or the tenant has a residence or allotted vacant possession or the tenant has ceased to be in service or employment for the purpose the premises were let to the tenant etc. The Landlord has to prove the landlord and tenant relationship, the rent is above Rs. 3,500/- and proper legal notice for eviction has been given to the tenant for the rented premises.  There is a provision under Section 19 to 22 of The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 for recovery of possession for occupation and re-entry of the evicted tenant in possession of the premises. . For  Bonafide requirement landlord can file a case for residential as well as commercial property (Satyawati Sharma (Dead) by LRs. Vs. Union of India & Anr., C.A. 1897/03 decided on 16.4.2008) . The Courts are under a legal compulsion to read the provision of law harmoniously to balance the rights of the landlords and the obligations of the tenants toward each other.

The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 clearly gives protection to the tenants and the tenants are enjoying the premises by paying less than 3,500/-. An Amendment in 1988 allowed the landlords to increase the rent by 10 % every three years, as such the tenant paying Rs. 10/- cannot hit the ceiling even after so many years. Then, with strict provisions the landlord cannot evict the tenant and the tenants are misusing the property, sometimes the tenant not take permission from the landlords and make alternations, modifications etc. in the premises.  The cost of maintaining a property is much high than the rent and it becomes difficult for the landlord to manage and the houses get in a depilated condition and the building gets decay. Even today, the law continues with the old rules and the landlords cannot evict the tenants unless they are in extreme circumstances and also the landlord cannot amend the lease.


With the Model Tenancy Act, 2019, the scenario for rented premises will have a sea change and a large number of residential and commercial buildings will now be rented out.  The new tenancy act describes the rights and duties of the landowner and the tenant in a detailed manner.  New Act will create trust and confidence between the Landlord and tenant. Contract and registration of contract between the Landlord and Tenant compulsory. One copy must be given to rent control Authority and the authority will be informed about the rent and duration of rented property.  Where the landowner and the tenant fail to jointly present a copy of the tenancy agreement then such landowner and the tenant shall separately file the particulars about such Tenancy Agreement within a period of one month from the date of expiry of the period and the Rent Authority will give a unique identification number to the parties and upload on the website in a vernacular language.  In case a tenancy for a fixed term ends and has not been renewed and the premises have not been vacated by the tenant at the end of such tenancy, the tenancy shall be deemed to be renewed on a month-to-month basis on the same terms and conditions as were in the expired tenancy agreement, for a maximum period of six months and thereafter,  a tenant will be a tenant in default and liable to pay the rent as provided in Section 22 of this Act. There is a capping of security which the Landlord can take from the tenant ie. a maximum of two months’ rent in case of residential property and, minimum of one month’s rent in case of non-residential property.

Rights of Tenant:

The tenant is entitled to get one original signed copy of agreement from the landlord within fifteen days of the agreement being signed by both the landowner and the tenant.  On paying rent,the tenant is entitled to get acknowledgment of receipt. There are certain obligations on the landlord and tenant eg.  for repairs, maintenance etc. No landowner or property manager or tenant either by himself or through any person shall cut-off or withhold any essential supply or service in the premises occupied by the tenant or the landowner.

A landowner or the property manager may enter a premise during day time in accordance with written notice or notice through electronic medium Entry with notice served to the tenant at least twenty-four hours before the time of entry for inspection or repair or for any other reason specified in the agreement.

A Landlord cannot evict a  tenant during the continuance of tenancy. The Landlord can make an application before the Rent Court for the recovery of possession of the premises  if rent is not agreeable, the tenant has not paid the arrears in full of rent payable two months and the tenant has parted with the possession of whole or any part of the premises without obtaining the written consent of the landowner. If the tenant corrects the situation within one month of the matter reaching court, they will be allowed to stay, if this is their only default in the course of that year. In case the premises are not fit for habitation, the tenant would be within his right to leave it after serving a 15-day notice period. The tenant can be evicted if he has continued misuse of the premises even after receipt of notice from the landowner to stop such misuse like causing public nuisance or causing damage to the property or doing illegal activity. The premises can also be vacated for the purpose of carrying out any repairs or building or rebuilding or additions or alterations or demolition and thereafter, the tenant is allowed to re-enter subject to the mutual agreement submitted with the Rent Authority. The Landlord is entitled to get compensation of double of the monthly rent for two months and four times of the monthly rent thereafter, for the use and occupation of a premise by a tenant who does not vacate the premises after his tenancy has been terminated by order, notice or as per agreement.

The responsibility to maintain the premises lie with both the parties. The rent agreement will have to specifically mention who takes care of what, in case of damages. Tenants cannot sublet part of whole of the rented building without the prior permission from the landlord.

The welcoming part is that the Act brings transparency, fix accountability and promote fairness in the rental housing segment by setting up of a rent authority for a disputes arising between a landlord and tenant.

The Author is Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court of India.

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