A tenant handing over possession of his rented flat to a relative at no cost amounts to sub-letting and is illegal, ruled the Bombay High Court recently while confirming an eviction notice to Harakchand Hirji Shah.
Justice Nishita Mhatre confirmed the order of the lower court, asking Shah to evict his flat. Vasudev Vaghji Relan, the owner of the flat, had approached the Small Causes Court in 1977 seeking eviction of Shah. Shah, himself had shifted to London while his brother occupied the flat.
Relan had claimed back possession of his flat stating that Shah had sub-let the flat to his relative which was not permissible as per the lease agreement. Relan also claimed that there was no need for Shah to occupy his flat as the latter had acquired alternate accommodation.
Agreeing with Relan’s arguments, the Small Causes Court had asked Shah to vacate the flat in 2000. Shah had challenged the lower court’s order in the HC claiming he had not sub-let his flat as he was not collecting rent from his brother.
P S Dani, Shah’s advocate argued that having an alternate accommodation in London did not amount to having a suitable alternate premises as defined in the Bombay Rent Act.
Justice Mhatre observed that collecting rent (from relative) is not the sole criteria to prove case of sub-letting.
While dismissing Shah’s appeal, Justice Mhatre observed that allowing a relative stay in the rented premises while the tenant is settled elsewhere amounted to sub-letting.