RIGHTS OF A TENANT UNDER INDIAN LAW

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We have heard of numerous instances of harassment either by a landlord towards the tenant or vice-versa. This aims at offering information about the rights of tenants and how they can protect themselves from a troublesome landlord. So, here are the rights that the tenants must be aware of-

  • Right to have full information about the condition of the house- A tenant has the right to a house that is fit to be lived in. Unsafe conditions, such as holes in the floor, plaster coming down from the ceiling, bad wiring, and the like are considered unfit. It is the landlord’s responsibility to see that the house meets the minimum standards of accommodation.

  • As per the law, a tenant should be fully informed of all the contents, terms and conditions of the contract and only upon the consent of the tenant can the agreement be signed by both the parties which then become a valid document.

  • Right to have a copy of the tenancy agreement- Both the parties will have to maintain a copy each of the agreement all the time. The tenant is also entitled to have appropriate contact information (telephone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses, etc.) and the landlord can be contacted at any point of time.

  •  Right to privacy- The tenant has the right to privacy. The landlord cannot walk into the house without prior permission or intimation unless there is a true emergency like a fire or a flood in the bathroom.

  • It is considered unlawful for a landlord to disconnect essential services such as electricity and water or restrict a tenant from using common amenities for recovery of rental dues or for other reasons. If a landlord executes any such brutalities, the tenant can approach the Rent Control Court to restore essential services and act against the landlord.

  • If the landlord harasses the tenant by asking to evict the premises without any lawful reason and fails to accept rent, the tenant can first issue a notice in writing to the landlord, asking for details of a bank into which the tenant can directly deposit the rent to the credit of the landlord. If the landlord fails to respond, the rent can be sent via money order to the landlord. If this attempt to pay the rent also fails, the tenant must immediately file an application before a Rent Control Court to deposit further rents in court.

  • As far as eviction is concerned, the landlord would have to file a petition before the competent Rent Control Court to seek eviction of the tenant. Under the Rent Control Act, landlords can evict tenants only under specific grounds, which include wilful default in rent payment, subletting without the prior consent, causing nuisance or when the landlord himself requires premises for personal occupation.

  • Right to reimbursement- The tenant is entitled to reimbursement for any repairs that he/she carries out that are the landlord’s responsibility.

  • The tenant is entitled to have visitors to stay overnight or for short periods unless specifically forbidden in the tenancy agreement. The landlord must be informed if the tenant has an extra person moving in.

  • The tenant is entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of tenancy.

  • The landlord must return the deposit to the Tenant at the end of the lease term with interest set by a statute.

  • Legal heirs of the tenant are also tenants and are entitled to receive all the protection available to the tenant under the Rent Control Act of various states. However, it is the choice of the legal heir if he wants to renew the contract with the landlord and continue to stay.

  • The tenant is entitled to refer any disputes to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) without being penalized for doing so. A tenant has the right to a copy of any register entry held by the RTB dealing with the tenancy.

  • All homes for rent must have a Building Energy Rating (BER) stating how energy-efficient the home is. This will help the tenant make an informed choice when comparing properties to rent.

  • It is relevant to note that in the case of contractual tenancy, which is granted for a specific period, the landlord will not be entitled to apply for possession of the building for his own bona fide additional accommodation. However, it is necessary for the tenant to establish contractual tenancy under a registered rental agreement where registration is mandated.