As per the law, a tenant has a legal right to go to the court and defend himself against an illegal eviction. Often non-payment of rent, rent agreement violation, property damage and illegal activity are key grounds for a tenant eviction. However, in case of illegal eviction, the tenant has certain rights which can be exercised. This article looks at these rights and how a tenant can exercise them
The position of tenant is always vulnerable as he/she has to live in the fear of receiving an unwarranted notice of eviction from the landlord and then, facing again the trauma of seeking other premises on lease at a cost which may or may not suit their budget and lifestyle.
The recent upheaval was caused in Mumbai from the outbreak of the news about the state government’s plan to incorporate its Model Rent Control Act, which was expected to weaken the protection of tenants from random hike in rent and unwarranted eviction.
Let’s take a look at how law can protect the tenants from this unwarranted and fake act of eviction by the landlord.
Legal Position on eviction
If the tenant finds out that the eviction is not bona fide and unjustifiable, then he/she has the right to be protected from such eviction. The laws pertaining to tenant protection from eviction are governed by respective state laws and each state has enlisted certain grounds which legally allow the landlord to evict the tenant. Any other ground other than mentioned in the list allows tenant to seek the help of laws and courts to protect themselves from such unwarranted acts of landlord.
In addition to above, there are regional and state laws which govern rent and lease agreements, carefully drafted, mutually agreed and signed by both tenant as well as landlord. These State Acts also enable tenants to fight for their right of protection if landlord compels the tenant to evict him/her for any invalid reason/ground as not enumerated in the Act.
In general, such eviction cases in the court take longer settlement time and goes on for about 10-20 years.
Legislations Pan India
The various states have enacted rent control laws that govern the rental agreements which are made for a period of 12 months or more months. For instance: Delhi Rent Act,1995; Punjab Rent Act, The West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1956, Tamil Nadu Rent Control Act, Karnataka Rent Control Act etc. contain standard provisions which ensure fixation of rent which must not exceed the standard rates, decrees controlling possession, protection of tenants against unwarranted eviction and many more.
In all the Rent Control Laws of the Indian states, there is a clear section that deals with protection of tenants against eviction and specifies the grounds that are legally sufficient for eviction. In fact, as per a judgment passed by the Supreme Court, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for a minimum period of 5 years if he/she has made the rent payment regularly and in accordance to the signed Rent agreement. He/she has the right to evict the tenant only if he/she genuinely needs his/her premises for his/her own use. The Landlord cannot misuse the law on false grounds to evict his/her tenants.
To name some, there is Section 14 of Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 that protects the tenants residing in Delhi against eviction by the landlord on any ground other than specified in the said section. Similarly, the West Bengal premises tenancy Act, 1956 contains almost same grounds in its Section 6.
Remedies available to the tenants against unlawful eviction by the landlords
- The first and foremost legal remedy available to tenant is his/her tenancy right which protects him/her from unwarranted eviction. He/she must refer the provisions of State Rent Control Act and read the grounds specified in the Act. If the landlord is evicting the tenant on any other ground than specified, then he/she can take the aid of law & law enforcement bodies to prevent this eviction.
- In case the Landlord compels the tenant to move out or leave the premises without giving any suitable notice, as required in the mutually signed rent agreement, the tenant can approach the court and file the suit for injunction. This will legally impede the landlord to evict the tenant on any other ground than mentioned in the State’s Rent Control Act.
- In case the landlord sends a notice of eviction on false grounds, then as per Rent Control Act;
- Visit the Rent Controller and state the reasons for challenging the eviction notice of the landlord.
- The Court will summon the tenant to present his/her case and he/she will present his/her reasons in support of requisite evidences. In case the landlord clearly indicates the non-receipt of the rent as the ground of sending eviction notice, then tenant has the right to send a written notice to the landlord asking for his/her bank details where he/she can deposit the rent. The landlord is required to send the details within 10 days of receipt of notice. In case, tenant receives the details, he/she is required to deposit the rent at the earliest. In case landlord couldn’t or didn’t reply to the notice within the specified time period, the tenant can make the rent payment via money order and keep the money order coupons as evidence of rent payment.
- What if the landlord refuses to receive money order? In that case, the last course in the hands of the tenant is to file the petition in the court of apt jurisdiction and receive the court order to accept/deposit the rent, in the way decided by the court.
- In certain cases, landlord may use harsh ways in order to compel him/her to evict the tenanted premises, like disconnecting or stopping the supply of electricity or water, then, the tenant has the right to approach the court for its help in getting restoration and connection of basis essentials. In this case, the landlord has to accept his/her defeat and will have to oblige the order of the court.
It is very important for a tenant to know his/her tenancy rights before agreeing to sign the rent agreement. He/she should also know the authority of landlord and the grounds on which he/she can sufficiently evict the tenant from his/her premises. This way he/she can avoid the eviction but if the landlord is maliciously or unjustifiably compelling you to leave the tenanted premises, then aforementioned remedies can immensely help in taking the rightful action.
#tags: Model Rent Control Act, Delhi Rent Act, Illegal Eviction
January 22, 2021