This article is written by Priyanshi Soni, a student of Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article seeks to highlight the provisions related to the procedural requirements under Section 25B of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.
The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 was approved by both Houses of Parliament and by the President on December 31, 1958. It came into force on February 9, 1959. It extends to areas within the New Delhi Municipal Committee, the Delhi Cantonment Board, and the Delhi Municipal Corporation. Also, courts are bound lawfully to read the provisions of this Act keeping in mind the rights of both the tenant and the landlord. The rental laws are intended to serve two main purposes:
- Protect the tenant from arbitrarily paying more than the standard rent
- Protect the tenant from unilateral eviction.
The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958
The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, was amended in 1988, it provides the landlord with a right to evict the tenant from the residential premises if the landlord is in bonafide need to conduct a business or reside in the property. In Smt. Gian Devi Anand vs Jeevan Kumar And Others (1985), it was held that the Court regards the bonafide need of the landlord in corporate and residential matters alike.
- This Act is majorly tenant-friendly and landlords usually face problems in removing a tenant usually. Even the conditions under which a landlord can remove a tenant are strictly monitored. Majorly the Act favors tenants with the intention for outstation students studying in colleges in Delhi. These students live miles away from their homes and so are many times exploited by landlords.
- Another major drawback is that it mismatches between the tenant’s capacity to pay the rent and the actual cost that accommodation holds. Also, the amount spent in law enforcement, in the cases and applications is too high.
- Another issue is very low rents and high maintenance of the property. Many tenants are very old, so they have a fixed rent, which makes it difficult to ensure regular maintenance.
Protection against eviction
A landlord cannot arbitrarily evict a tenant. Although if defaults such as non-payment or discretionary withdrawals by tenants are made, then the landlord is allowed to take back the property. Also, tenants of tenants have the same rights as lawful tenants regarding protection from withdrawals. However, on bona fide needs and grounds, eviction can be sought.
Consequences of the ancient Rent Act in Delhi
- This law compromises the quality or maintenance of the property as landlords do not maintain the property with care which yields their low returns.
- These rules limit supply and drive out genuine renters, forcing them to settle for unregistered and unlawful arrangements.
- In 2020, Delhi Government has chalked out a plan to allow the legislation to increase the rent by 25 percent to fund the building’s landlord. Since the rules tend to favor the tenants, the state government can improvise the laws. For example, the Tamil Nadu government has now come up with ways to balance rent control legislation. The state is projected to expand the rental market in this state in order to deal with eviction conflicts. Withdrawing rent control boosts property owner confidence by aiming for good rental returns, thereby helping to unlock the rental housing market’s potential. Petitioners have petitioned the High Courts of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka to remove similar anti-rent control statutes. While some of these appeals have been granted, Delhi may be on the verge of enacting a better tenancy law for parties, tenants, and landlords.
Section 25B of the Act
Section 25B of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 describes the special procedure for the disposal of applications for eviction on the ground of bona fide requirement. It has a total of 10 subsections for defining the same. This section provides a procedure for the landlord if he wants to recover the possession of the property. Subsection (1) specifies that the recovery of possession of any premises should be one based on the following grounds –
- As given in clause (e) of subsection (1) of Section 14 which states that the premises which are let out are required in a bonafide manner by the landlord for his purpose or any of his family members if the landlord is an owner himself; or if the landlord or any other person for whom the premise is held, has no other suitable options to reside, it is a sufficient and a bonafide ground; or
- Section 14A states that the landlord owning any residential accommodation in Delhi or property given to him by the Central government or local authority must vacate such property if ordered by the government/authority. This is done so that they could be allotted to more deserving ones. Also, he must take responsibility for the government accommodation in case of any default. Such a person, who has been required to vacate or incur obligations in respect of public premises must be enabled to shift to residential accommodation owned by him. Therefore, a right is inferred on such a landlord. Apart from this, there should be an existent relation between landlord and tenant and the landlord (or his wife or child) must be the owner of the premises. In case the landlord satisfies the conditions mentioned in Section 14A, a special right to obtain eviction accrues to him or Section 14B or 14C or 14D can also be referred to.
Further under Section 25B, subsection (2), for every such application as we saw above, the Controller has to issue the summons.
Subsection (3) elaborates on the way by which the summon has to be issued –
- Clause (a) – the Controller shall issue the summon to be served by registered post along with the issue of summons for service on the tenant, addressed to the tenant or his agent empowered to accept the service at the place where the tenant or his agent actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business. And if required, he shall also publish the summon in the newspaper.
- Clause (b) – when the clause containing summon is received back by the Controller or the acknowledgment is signed by the tenant and that is received by the Controller, then it is said that the service of summoning is made.
Subsection (4) states the next step, wherein after the summon is served on a tenant, the tenant cannot contest the eviction. If he wants to do so, he has to file an affidavit with proper grounds and reasons. The Controller shall provide him with the proper time to contest such application (Subsection 5) and after giving such time, shall proceed with the hearing as soon as possible (Subsection 6). In case of default in appearing for such objection or otherwise in appearing for summons, it will be assumed that the application for eviction is accepted by the tenant.
The Act strictly lays down that no appeals should lie against an order passed on recovery of premises by the Controller, provided that the High Court can ask for records of the case and pass orders on it (Subsection 8) and if no review is ordered by High Court, then the Controller can use his power of review.
In Baldev Singh Bajwa v. Monish Saini (2005), it was held by the Supreme Court that whenever a landlord seeks ejectment of a tenant for a bonafide purpose, then it shall be presumed that such ejectment is genuine in nature. Furthermore, the tenant bears the burden of rebutting the aforementioned inference.
In another case of Satyawati Sharma vs. Union of India & Anr. (2008), it was held that Section 14(1)(e) of the 1958 Act is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India because it discriminates between the premises rented out for residential and non-residential purposes. This means when the landlord gave the property to the tenant for his commercial purposes and now wants eviction of such tenant for his (landlord’s) residential purpose, then he cannot practice his right and his right is restricted because now the property is used for commercial purpose and he himself allowed this.
To conclude, the Act and specifically provision 25B of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 tends to protect tenants more than the landlord. It has become quite an ancient law now and the need is to come with more amendments to the Act as per the need of the changing times, especially in a city like Delhi.
The main disadvantage of the Delhi Rent Control Act is that the income from the property is stagnant. As a result, measures such as key money have emerged. As a result, the law has limited renters’ access to low-income communities, not only because of the black market in rented properties but also because they cannot afford significant deposits for rented premises.
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