Mumbai tenants demand conversion of tenanted properties to ownership

From ET Realty

MUMBAI: Tenants in the island city may have won the battle against the state government recently, but now they are gearing up for a long-drawn war.

Barely days after forcing the BJP-led state government to withdraw a proposal to amend the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, several hundred tenants held a meeting on Sunday morning to pressure the government to protect their interests. The Action Committee for Protection of Tenants Rights (ACPTR) met at a south Mumbai club and decided to push the demand to convert all tenanted properties into ownership.

The state housing department headed by the BJP’s Prakash Mehta faced protests early this month for its plan to unfreeze rents for tenants occupying large flats and commercial properties.

Tenants’ representatives from the Association of Hotel and Restaurants (AHAR), the Transporters’ Association, and the Federation of Retail Traders and Welfare Association, and also representatives of various Rent Control Act-affected organisations unanimously agreed to form a non-political body.

“The ACPTR has been formed as a non-political state-level panel comprising 700 associations to fight for their demands,” a member said.

At the meeting, housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu made five suggestions, including pushing the government to make a new law on the lines of slums, where slumdwellers receive 10% extra FSI if they develop slums on their own.

Prabhu said, “One way is to strengthen the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) Ownership Act.” He said reservation in development plan (DP) to protected tenanted properties would be another option.

“Under the DP, the state government has the right to declare certain portions of the city reserved for specific purposes. It can put reservation for the redevelopment of old, tenanted buildings. If the landlord wants to voluntarily hand over possession of a building to tenants by making them owners, he can be compensated with a Transfer of Development Right (TDR) certificate. The landlord can sell the TDR certificate in the open market and get a good price than what builders would offer,” said Prabhu.

“If a landlord doesn’t voluntarily convert tenants into owners, there can be a joint venture between the two to redevelop the building. Additional FSI can be given to the landlord as compensation. That will sort out the landlord’s problem too.”

About leased properties, Prabhu said, “Most of the buildings are on lease, given either by the state government, the municipal corporation, the port trust or other authorities. The authority should give an option of 25% of the ready reckoner price to the owner and tenants jointly to covert the land from leasehold into freehold. In case the lease expires, tenants can be made to pay 25% of the area’s ready reckoner rate to make land freehold.”

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