Advocating for GUJARAT (RENT AUTHORITY) TENANCY ACT

In 2020, I was tagged in a post by a well-meaning member of my group Flat and Flatmates Ahmedabad, the author of the post was a female tenant accusing PG Owner of monetary fraud and a sugar daddy streak of behaviour along with his profile link and photograph. 

Everyday, I see new posts asking for help or accusing landlords or brokers or PG Owners, the information may be true or false, but the question is, why are all other sources of help locked down?

The police won’t register an FIR because a young person is living away from family, they ask them to simply find another place, not realising the time and cost implication involved.

The civil courts are too far a reality to be visible for a bachelor on a budget and cooperative boards/consumer courts gave different judgements based on outdated information.

Where do we go?

Every year, thousands of young adults come to Gujarat, as students or job seekers, to study or work, having a housing budget and a goal in mind. That young mind has no idea of the pitfalls of financial losses he will face while living in inhabitable conditions with unhygienic food because there are limited options for unmarried youth due to: 

  • Illegal restrictions/charges/harrassment by cooperative housing societies against bachelors,
  • An unregulated market of unregistered brokers and 
  • Landlords not returning the security deposit 
  • Racism
  • Sudden homelessness due to new society rules (unregistered with the registrar and discriminatory)

MODEL TENANCY BILL 2019

  • Setting up of a rent authority, to bring transparency, fix accountability and promote fairness; 
  • and the second is speedy dispute resolution, wherein timelines have been provided in the policy, to avoid a long-drawn-out process.

MODEL TENANCY BILL 2019 IS NOT SUFFICIENT

  • Application of the MTA to premises providing paying guest facilities is not clear.
  • Maharashtra: 
    • The 7th Constitutional Amendment of Bye-Law 43 of Maharashtra Co-operative Housing Society Act, a landlord can sublet, leave and license his house to any tenant as long as the association has been informed about the tenancy at least 8 days before the property is occupied. 
    • Any non-occupancy charges or extra maintenance required by the rules of society will have to be paid by the landlord though. In Gujarat, maintenance is often charged on the account of the tenant.
    • NOC is not required from society.
  • Sanwarmal Kejriwal vs. Vishwa Cooperative Housing Society – Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the owner’s right to keep tenant of his choice.
  • Involving the National Cooperative Housing Federation of India (NCHFI) to provide model bylaws copy to all, online and free.

GROUND REALITY  

Tenants ousted overnight amidst covid
Unregistered PG’s without police verification/listing running on muscle power and cash without receipts

ISSUES

OVERLAPPING AND OUTDATED LAWS

often lead to an order contradictory to the provisions in place: Interim Order in case of Hilldarshan Co-operative Society Limited Part-II (Chinar Bunglows, Bodakdev)

  • The Cooperative Societies Act model bye-laws for Gujarat are based on Rajkot which has no time/date stamp.
  • The Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947 does not specify annual increment rates of rent.
  • The model bye-laws of Gujarat do not provide any clarity on 
  • tenant registration procedure with society, 
  • written nominal/associate membership,  
  • right to access bye-laws, 
  • compulsory leave and license agreement, 
  • parking space

Problems to be solved by new act

For Tenant:

  1. Instant eviction by landlord/society
  2. High rent charged from bachelor tenants as compared to family tenants
  3. Landlord often rakes up a huge bill of maintenance to cut majority of security deposit amount from bachelor tenants
  4. Society randomly throws out bachelor tenants (happened in April 2020 covid)
  5. Society does not let tenant use landlord’s parking
  6. Landlord interference in possession of tenant
  7. Society harassing tenant in the name of private nuisance by tenants (Society stopping water, lift and electricity, mobbing crowd, physical assault) 
  8. Police not registering FIR without landlord’s support
  9. Service based commercial activity from home or small business operations facing hurdles from management in the form of high maintenance charges

For Landlord:

  1. Tenant does not leave after 1 month’s notice
  2. Tenant does not pay rent on time
  3. Tenant does not pay the electricity and water bill
  4. Tenant creating public nuisance

For government:

  1. Registration of PG services
  2. Data Accumulation and listing of rent properties area-wise
  3. Control on Tax evasion
  4. Removing burden on civil court
  5. Migration data to prevent crime (terrorism)

AIM

  • Rent Authority and Tenancy Portal
  • Establish a single forum at district level to solve disputes and to protect migrant tenants from prejudicial discrimination and harassment
  • Repeal all old and overlapping laws such as Rent Control Act on tenant-landlord-property manager relationship on an 11 month leave and license agreement

Modelled on issues faced by tenants, landlords, PG owners and guests in Gujarat and migrant data and Housing For All plan 2022

GUJARAT (RENT AUTHORITY) TENANCY ACT DRAFT TO BE BASED ON

  • The Tamil Nadu Regulation of Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants Act 2017
  • The Uttar Pradesh Regulation of Urban Premises Tenancy Ordinance, 2021
  • Regulation of Private Hostels and Paying Guest Accommodation Centres Bill 2017
  • Constitution of India
  • Gujarat Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2017
  • Consumer Protection Act
  • Transfer of Property Act, 1882
  • Right to a shelter (International treaties, laws etc.)
  • Right of stay of Animal Pets (case law) vs Treatment of Bachelors 
  • History of Cooperative Societies
  • Supreme Court Orders
  • Small Causes Court Cases and other case laws
  • Violence Incidents
  • National Human Rights Commission
  • Photos and Video Data

ONLINE PORTAL 

to replace agreement on paper and notary costs

The details to be filled up:

  1. Tenant(s) and Landlord Name, Address, Phone No.
  2. Property Manager/Broker involved
  3. Brokerage paid and services included
  4. Society Name
  5. Property on rent address
  6. Room allotment/Entire property allotment
  1. Electricity Meter No. 
  2. Electricity Meter reading before before initiation of tenancy period
  3. Electricity bill paid up to the reading before initiation of tenancy period
  1. Deposit
  2. Maintenance Duties of Tenant(s)
  3. Maintenance Duties of Landlord
  4. Property photos on 1st day of tenancy
  1. Digital ID of Tenant(s) and Landlord
  2. Digital Signatures of Tenant(s) and Landlord
  1. Circulating Tenancy: Add new form with new tenant(s) and last date of tenancy of old tenant (s)
  2. Sub-letting: registered (transparency and the tenant is not changing norms at break-neck speed).

LEGAL PROVISIONS

  • Assign rent authority for each district with email id and phone no. for emergency assistance
  • Compulsory rent agreement registration
  • Monthly Rent Amount includes property tax and maintenance charges
  • Notice of 1 month by either party
  • Only parties involved (tenant or landlord or property manager to have the power to file a complaint before the rent authority)
  • Deposit adjustment in rent after inspection of property and pending bills to be paid by tenant (Landlord often rakes up a huge bill of maintenance to cut majority of deposit amount from bachelor tenants)
  • Return of deposit on the day of taking possession of property by landlord( or his representative by handing over keys) without delay as tenant has to find a new property which needs a deposit as well.
  • Return of deposit does not include cutting off charges for normal wear and tear 
  • Define normal wear and tear
  • Property photos on last day of tenancy to make a list of pending maintenance
  • Revision of rent not more than 5% per annum on residential properties and 7% non residential properties
  • 8% interest on delay in payment of deposit to tenant by landlord or rent to landlord by tenant.

PENAL PROVISIONS

Society discriminating against tenants, ousting them overnight, not giving parking space of landlord, interviewing tenants and placing conditions of stay, charging maintenance and other random charges from tenants or tenants working from residential accommodation and any other illegal activity.

Against non-registration of rent agreement by the property manager/landlord with photos  of the property before giving possession to tenant and annual submission of copy of rent receipts with the rent officer.

Against non payment of security deposit to tenant on the day of vacating the premise.

CONCLUDING REMARK

(Based on incidents, case laws, news, SOS complaints and PG’s visited)

The population of Gujarat (2020 May) estimate being 6.48 Crores, has no organised data of urban migrants to the state, hence the police system does not have a database to prevent crime and acts of terrorism, and the apartment culture with lax police verification facilitates movement of gangsters. 

There is no law to register a whole segment of economy: Unregistered brokers who act as a chain of commission in the rental sector without actually providing any service, and are charging brokerage in cash equal to 1 month rent, often in advance and vanishing into thin air thereafter, without completing the transfer of possession (legal and physical procedure) and a majority of them cheating the tax system.

We researched and found out that a lot of platforms have flats listed on rent in VIR SAVARKAR by owners/brokers. We decided to contact some of them and got a positive response that it is available for rent but these properties cannot be rented out.

Listing of the properties on rent, area-wise and removing the burden of rental disputes from civil courts, removing the barrier of delay providing economic feasibility and increasing ease of living vis-a-vis attractiveness of the city’s education and medical hub, career opportunities and rental income.

This law will help overcome the non-existence of model bye-laws

PAYING GUEST

and help clean illegally running pg accommodations, giving accountability and responsibility to the service provider(property manager/pg owner/landlord) and the consumer(tenant) reducing cash payments of rent and illegal and unhygienic living spaces.

The minimum usable area for one Paying Guest shall be 50 sq. ft. with adequate provision of toilet as per norms of Public Health Department i.e. one W.C. for five persons. In a 2 BHK flat, more than 10 paying guest are made to live by a middleman who runs the PG with the Land Owner washing his hands off responsibility.

Sealing all Paying Guest Accommodation overnight when a media promoted crime occurs is not a solution, it only creates more homelessness and financial burdens on urban migrants. (Chandigarh)

A RENT AUTHORITY OFFICER IN EACH DISTRICT 

The resentment against Bachelors as Paying Guests is certainly increasing. Only by increasing the accountability of the landlord will change occur. The society cannot ask a tenant to leave unless he has committed an offense under the Indian Law. They get better services and their security deposit becomes secure.

Existing laws have outlived their age, they overlap with each other and are used by authorities to exploit the innocent public. But all these laws say one same thing. That a PG is under the control and administration of the local municipal corporation or the Nagar Nigam who have no data and run no regular checks.

वसुधैवकुटुम्बकम्

The World is one family

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