India has grappled with numerous landlord-tenant disputes, many escalating to the courtroom. Courts in India have issued verdicts based on party claims and relevant laws. Outcomes have fluctuated, sometimes favouring landlords and other times tenants. Some cases have reached the Supreme Court, challenging the rental laws in India. One case initiated in 1993 took almost three decades to reach the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court judgement on the eviction of tenants has granted relief and ruled in the favour of landlords. This article highlights this case, shedding light on landlord challenges in tenant eviction. It also delves into landlords’ legal rights in India and more. Explore this article for comprehensive insights. 

Supreme Court Judgement on the Eviction of Tenant

In a typical yet protracted legal battle, a landlord initiated proceedings against a tenant in a Kolkata Civil Court in 1993, seeking to regain control of a shop. The crux of the dispute stemmed from the tenant’s steadfast refusal to vacate the premises as their 21-year lease, originally slated to conclude in 1998, neared its end. Despite the landlord’s diligent reminders, the tenant remained unyielding.

The landlord started his 12-year legal journey to regain control over his property in 1993, five years after the tenant’s first intransigence. He filed a civil suit. In 2005, the landlord finally received a decision in his favour after a lengthy court battle. But the landlord’s problems persisted despite his triumph; the tenant kept bothering him in other ways.

The tenant’s nephew entered the case in 2009, almost four years later, claiming to be a shareholder in the store. Due to this, the legal process took an additional 12 years to resolve. 

After thinking carefully, the Supreme Court passed the judgement in favour of the landlord. The judgement stated that the tenant used the legal system unfairly and hurt the landlord’s rights. So, the tenant was found guilty and told to leave the shop, giving it back to the landlord in 15 days.

The Supreme Court said the tenant had to pay the rent they owed, calculated from March 2010 at market rates. The tenant was allotted three months’ time to comply with the court order and shell out a fine amounting to INR 1 lakh for creating issues for the landlord. 

The Supreme Court judgement on the eviction of tenants has fortified landlords’ positions across the country, reinforcing the message that tenants cannot unlawfully occupy and harass property owners without facing legal repercussions. It sends a clear signal that landlords have the recourse to file cases against such transgressions, with the courts prepared to take stringent action in defence of their rights.

Let’s begin by going into the specifics of landlords’ rights under Indian law:

Landlord’s Right of Eviction

As per the Rent Control Act that applied to tenants over 12 months, landlords faced a lot of trouble. They had a tough time evicting the tenants who took undue advantage of the said act. But the Supreme Court judgement on the eviction of tenants has given a landlord complete rights over his/her property even as the person leases it to someone. If a landlord feels that a renter is unfit to live on the premises, he/she may legally force the tenant to leave. The Model Tenancy Act 2020 aims to help the landlord under the following circumstances:

  • In case there is a need for untimely eviction of tenants
  • Modifications in rent with the mutual consent of both parties
  • Repossession cases

Let us take a look at the various cases in which the landlord can evict a tenant:

  • If a tenant sublets the rented portion without obtaining the property owner’s permission. 
  • If there is a breach in the rental agreement
  • If a renter carries any illegal activity in the rented premises
  • If the tenant can’t pay the full amount of rent on time
  • If the property owner requires the property for setting up or expanding his business
  • If the tenant utilises a residential property for commercial activities without informing the landlord
  • Landlord’s Right to Evict for Repair and Maintenance

The property owner has the right to evict the tenant in case the rented property requires any repair or maintenance. This applies when the premises require tenant eviction for necessary repairs. After the maintenance/repair work is completed, the premises may be leased out again.

Landlord’s Right to be Advised about Repairs

The property owner should keep the property in good condition, and the tenant must help in maintaining it. Tenants are obligated to promptly notify the landlord of any necessary minor or major repairs. Renters can do minor repairs in specific circumstances but must inform and obtain permission from the property owner in advance. Keeping the landlord informed about any maintenance/alterations is essential. The Rent Control Act states that renters and landlords must distribute these expenses among themselves in a fair way.

Landlord’s Right to Raise the Rent

The landlord reserves the right to raise the rent periodically. This applies to both retail space and domestic property. However, the rental law in India safeguards against landlords exploiting this provision, outlining the responsibilities of both parties. Typically, in India, rent is increased by 10% every 11 months.

Eviction Process for Tenants in India

To evict a tenant in India while adhering to the necessary legal procedures and avoiding prohibited actions, the following steps should be followed:

Issue a notice for departure: An official eviction notice must delineate the reasons for eviction and the specified date and time for the tenant to vacate the premises. This notification is subsequently served to the tenant through a legally authorised court. The landlord should offer the tenant a reasonable duration to relocate. It is common for tenants to voluntarily vacate the premises in numerous cases upon receiving a legal notice from the court.

Initiate eviction proceedings legally: Should the tenant refuse to vacate the property and challenge the eviction notice after receiving the court’s order, the landlord has the option to commence an eviction lawsuit with the assistance of a rental property attorney. This lawsuit is submitted to the civil court with the appropriate jurisdiction governing the leased property.

Obtain a final eviction order: During the eviction lawsuit, both parties present their arguments and evidence. Based on the proceedings and the facts presented, the court passes a judgment and issues a final legal notice of eviction to the tenant. When a renter is served the court’s final eviction notice, he/she is legally obligated to leave the rented premises.

It is critical to protect the interests of property owners and renters. Neither party should exploit the other unfairly. The recent Supreme Court ruling on tenant eviction has reinforced the landlords’ confidence in the judicial system. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that the law strives to balance the interests of both landlords and tenants, ensuring a fair equilibrium in India’s rental laws.

Frequently asked questions

How often can a property owner increase the rent of a house/shop?

If the lease calls for a yearly rise in rent, the landlord may and will likely do so annually.

Can a landlord terminate the Rent Agreement before the term is up?

Property owners can end the tenancy agreement. But he/she has to give the renter advance notice.

How much rent can a landlord in India increase each year, Does the tenant have the right to refuse this raise and continue at the same rent ?

Landlords in India can increase the rental amount by 10% every year. The tenant cannot refuse this raise. However, the tenant can try to negotiate the deal with the property owner. They can mutually decide on a certain percentage. It’s possible to negotiate and extend the tenure of the Rental Agreement at the current rent rate with the property owner.

What documents are required to file a case for eviction of a tenant?

You must gather the documents listed below before filing an eviction lawsuit: Legal notice of photocopy shared with the tenant Sale deed or other legal documents that show the landlord owns the respective property Rent Agreement and Other necessary documents of the property.

Can a landlord force a tenant to leave the house anytime he/she wants?

Landlords have the authority to remove tenants before the completion of the rental agreement’s tenure, but only under specified circumstances. Subleasing the property, breaching the rental agreement, engaging in unlawful activities, and late rent payments all fall under this category. A landlord must not resort to unfair eviction in any circumstance. Tenants are shielded from unlawful eviction under the Rental Control Act.

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