Stop trying to dishouse genuine tenants through Changes in Rent Control Act

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We have serious objections to the draft rules of the Maharashtra Rent Control Rules, 2017, particularly the entirety of Chapter III and Rule 4, which may, in the future, place a large number of tenants in a legally precarious position in view of the provision for increased rent.

These changes if carried out will get families like mine that have lived in these premises for decades thrown out or make it unaffordable to survive.

There is no practical need for Chapter III, as most landlords are content to allow buildings to fall into disrepair, as a way of harassing tenants in an attempt to coerce them to vacate their premises. There is practically no landlord who desires to repair his building, with most tenants having to litigate and seek other legal recourse to repair their buildings. The notion that landlords would provide special additions or provide additional amenities is absurd, when most landlords do not provide basic facilities.

 When landlords co-operate and are not out to harass tenants, tenants are ready and willing to pay for repairs and amenities. Tenants are cognizant of their equitable and practical interest in their premises.

 Chapter III appears to apply to all buildings, including cessed buildings, which are covered under the MHADA Act for repairs and which pay a repair cess to the MRBB for repairs to their buildings.

 The permitted increase in rent is set at 15% of the amount of expense incurred amounts to a payback period of under 7 years. The said increase is not described as temporary. A permanent 15% increase is altogether excessive and unreasonable and would result in a windfall gain to landlords.

 Unscrupulous landlords would abuse the provisions of the rules, carrying out illusory or unnecessary repairs, or repairs at inflated costs, as a means to extort monies from tenants.

 An apparently permanent increase in rent in this manner would render tenants vulnerable to losing protection of the Rent Act should a future amendment exempt premises having a monthly rent above a certain threshold, as has been done in other States. This may result in a grossly inequitable situation.

 The expression “annual rental value” is vague, and open to a great deal of interpretation. In fact, a large part of Chapter III is vague and open to a great deal of interpretation, abuse and misuse.

 A workable alternative to achieve the same objective may be to permit tenants to repair buildings themselves and at their cost. This may require legislative intervention, however. Alternatively, as compared to a permanent increase in rent, a one time lump sum payment for the cost of repairs is a fairer and more equitable solution, which may however also require legislative sanction.

In view of the seriousness and drastic implications of these Draft Rules, the short time afforded to submit suggestions and objections is altogether unreasonable. Additionally, no publicity was given to the Draft Rules, with most tenants remaining in the dark as to their very existence or importance.  



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