This article on ‘Legal Rights and Duties of Landlords in India’ was written by Madiha Khan, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The landlord is the lessor whereas the tenant is the lessee, who is bound by a contractual relationship. A landlord is someone who owns one or more properties, such as flats or apartments, and leases such property to tenants. The landlord leases his property to a tenant by way of a tenancy agreement. While it’s typical that a lessor owns and maintains the residential property, the term can also be applied to the owner of commercial real estate.
The term landlord represents any person who under a contractual relationship is receiving, or is eligible to receive, a rental fee in respect of any properties, let for residential or commercial use, either for himself or on behalf of someone else, who would so receive the rent if the premises were let to a lessee. In this article we will be discussing the Legal Rights and Duties of Landlords in India.
The concept of a landlord originated from the feudal system popularly known as manorialism or seignorialism, wherein the land in the estate is owned by the Lord of the Manor, also known as mesne lords. During the Middle Ages, this method of land ownership was practised in some places in Europe, particularly France and England.
In recent times, “landlord” describes any individual, a government entity or an institution; that provides housing facilities to people on a rental basis for a particular period.
Owners usually appoint an agent or agency firm to take care of all the procedures and formalities that need to be completed before renting out their property. This comprises marketing and showing the property to prospective renters, and negotiating the terms of the license agreement.
Rights and powers
Right to increase the rent – It is the landlord’s right to collect rent for the property that he has let. Landlords have to charge rent as per the market rates but this does not mean that they cannot raise the rent. The landowners have the right to raise the rent from time to time at a fixed rate, depending upon the terms of the agreement or as per the rates sanctioned by the government. Landlords can raise the rent to 4% P.A, of the premises that have been let out for any purpose. There can be an increase in the rents if different amenities are provided in the rented accommodation, to make it more convenient for usage.
Right to collect a security deposit – this right is provided to indemnify the landlord for any damages caused to the property, non-payment of rent, etc. Any increases in real estate taxes that the tenant is required to pay under the tax escalator clause in the agreement, could be deducted by the landlord from the security deposit at the end of the rental term.
Right to evict a tenant – As per The Draft Model Tenancy Act 2015, the landlord can evict the tenant before the completion of the rental agreement on various grounds, such as subletting the property or a part thereof to another party without due permission, breach of leave and license agreement, abuse of property, illegal activities inside of the property, consecutive delay in the payment of rent, etc.
Right to a temporary recovery of possession – A landlord can temporarily regain possessions of the property after renting it out on the grounds that the building is unsafe for human habitation and repairs can only be carried out after vacating the premises, or, in a case where there is a prerequisite vacating of the premises for carrying out repairs or modifications to the building, after which the building will again be offered to the tenant.
Right to be advised of necessary repairs – The landlord has the obligation and right to listen to requests for repairs in an efficient way. The renter can make minor repairs to the property. But, prior written consent from the landlord is required for any major renovations that call for payment. Therefore, a landlord has the right to know about any repairs that are required for his or her property. The landlord is required by law to keep the property in a decent condition for the tenants. However, the rent control act stipulates to split the cost of the repairs between the parties.
Right to choose the lessee – The landlord has the autonomy to choose their tenant as per their liking and can dictate the terms of the agreement accordingly. The landlord is also entitled to inspect the property and carry out necessary repairs
Recovery of possession –
- erecting permanent structure
- creating nuisance or annoyance
- premises are to be demolished
- on expiry of the licence
Duties of Landlords
The landlord must grant the tenant possession of the property after the execution of the agreement. This duty is violated if a third party has principal title to the property at the time the tenant is entitled to take possession and asserting this title would deprive the tenant of his right to possession of the property.
Obligations of the landlord:
- To make required repairs to the property, and the maintenance of hot water systems, sinks, baths and other sanitary-ware
- To periodically check if the gas and electrical appliances are safe.
- To look after the fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided under the tenancy
- To make sure that the property is fit for habitation
- To make repairs whenever necessary, for instance, to make necessary repairs to prevent leakage.
The following legal actions that a landlord can take to evict the tenant from the rented premises:-
First is to send a legal notice with the help of the lawyer in which the details regarding the agreement, ground for eviction, the period within which the tenant has to vacate the rented property, etc., will be stated.
After this, if the tenant fails to vacate the premises then the landlord and file a suit for eviction in the appropriate court. After the final decisions of the court, and if the court order the eviction of the property then the final eviction notice is sent to the tenant directing them to vacate the premises within the time limit. However, the tenant has the option to file an appeal against their eviction.
India has a ‘Neutral or Tenant-friendly law’, as compared to some countries that have ‘Pro- landlord laws’. Some landlords do execute one-sided agreements and are intrusive; however, this works against them as the tenants favour landlords that are neutral or tenant-friendly. Furthermore, to protect the rights given to the landlord, the landlord should foremost fulfil his duties and obligation towards the tenant to protect himself from any potential lawsuit.
- Rights and Duties of Landlords and Tenants, at: https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_introduction-to-the-law-of-property-estate-planning-and-insurance/s16-02-rights-and-duties-of-landlords.html#:~:text=The%20landlord%20must%20give%20the,use%20contemplated%20by%20the%20parties.
- Landlord, 22 August 2022, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landlord
- Vakeel No.1, Legal Remedies for Landlord- How to evict a tenant from Rented Property? 2 January 2020, at: http://vakeelno1.com/blog/legal-remedies-for-landlord-how-to-evict-a-tenant-from-rented-property/
 DRAFT MODEL TENANCY ACT, 17 April 2015, at: https://mohua.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/2Draft_Model_Tenancy_Act.pdf