Tenant’s position compromised in draft rent control Act: Activists

From ET Realty

MUMBAI: The Centre’s draft Model Rent Control Act, which the state government plans to incorporate, is aimed at completely doing away with the concept of rent control and tenant protection systems, allege activists.

Janhit Manch vice-president Utsal Karani, in a letter to Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, said the Centre’s draft Act will only benefit the powerful landlord and builder lobby across the country.

“Section 8 of the draft Model Act will allow landlords to demand whatever they desire as rent from their tenants after a year of the law coming into force,” Karani said and added the two most crucially interlinked commandments of any rent control legislation are protection against arbitrary increase in rent and arbitrary eviction. “Both have been given the go-by. The draft does not provide for any rent regulation or control but is a piece of fraudulent attempt to actually de-control all rental units, whether residential or commercial, all over India, thereby adversely affecting crores of tenants.”

Former south Mumbai MP Milind Deora said it was unfortunate the BJP-Shiv Sena government is set on favouring landlords over Mumbai’s middle-class and tenants. “We will oppose the move.”

Not everyone, though, is convinced the amendment is anti-tenant. Sanjay Sanghvi, aTOI reader, said his maid and driver pay Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 as rent per month. “How can one justify that a person living in a 850-square-foot flat in Mumbai is middle-class and cannot afford to pay more than Rs 300 per month as rent? Rents cannot remain frozen endlessly,” he said.

Sudheer Bahl said though a new Rent Control Act was enacted in 2000 and companies with more than Rs 1 crore paid-up share capital had been removed from the purview of rent control, in reality this was not so. “Many companies took recourse to litigation and continue to pay standard rent,” he said.

The state government plans to release the draft in a few weeks. One of the amendments being considered is that a dispute on market rent should be determined by a competent authority. “Till the matter is decided, rent as determined by the competent authority will have to be deposited, to speed up resolution of the dispute,” he said.

The BMC, he said, has provided figures based on property tax records to show that 92% of tenants will remain unaffected.

Activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu said tenants had paid the prevalent market rate as pagari at the time of moving in. “The rent is a small token of the pagari.” He added the state, in a series of affidavits before court, has said it cannot differentiate between larger and smaller premises. “How can they now go back on it? Besides, the matter is sub judice and pending before a bench of Supreme Court.”

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