Maharashtra to partially adopt Central Model Tenancy Act
Maharashtra government will partially adopt Central government’s Model Tenancy Act which was approved by the Union cabinet on Wednesday. The tenancy act has always been a huge controversial issue in Mumbai as hundreds of thousands of tenants living in old dilapidated buildings and chawls have been resisting any changes in the existing Rent Control Act.
Their contention is that any change will result in massive hike in the rentals and make their eviction from the premises easier.
State housing minister Jitendra Awhad said the state will not allow any injustice to the existing tenants. “We will thoroughly study the model law and adopt only those points which are for the benefits of citizens. Anything dealing with hike in rentals or eviction of existing tenants will not find a place in our law,” said Awhad. He said the state enjoys absolute liberty to decide on such matters.
There are about 600,000 families living in more than 30,000 such old buildings and chawls which are controlled by the Rent Control Act, which leads to very low rent, making eviction of tenants a mammoth task. The rents were frozen at the rates prevailing in 1940s. The act was amended later with Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999. The new law proposed that landlords were entitled to make an increase of 4% per annum in rent of the premises that had been let out for any purpose.
According to the Central government, the act was an attempt to give legal framing for rental housing and encourage private participation to tackle the problem of massive housing shortage. It said that it would bridge the trust deficiency between landlords and tenants. It also wanted establishments of the Rent Authority to deal with issues of rental markets.
The Shiv Sena has decided to demonstrate against the central laws across the city. They will stage agitations on Friday at Lalbaug and Worli.
Housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu said the act was useless for Maharashtra. “We already have the leave and license agreement which is sufficient to deal with rental market. Our main issue is that existing tenants have already paid a Pugree while taking possession of the premises which was the market rate at that time and hence deserve all the protection. Another is that these tenants have lived for generations in these buildings and it was unfair to throw them out,” said Prabhu. He said many attempts were made to destroy the Rent Control Act but all attempts were trawled.
From decades, there has been a tussle between tenants and landlords of old buildings over rent. Landlords rue about the low rent saying it was impossible to maintain the premises on such rentals and that they were forced to shell from their own pockets. In contrast, tenants argued that since landlords were taking rents, it was imperative for them to maintain. As a result, most of these buildings decayed due to the inaction from both parties.
Aslam Bambotia, who is the landlord of many buildings in Bhendi Bazar and Pydhonie, said it was impossible to maintain the buildings with such rent. “My tenants hardly pay ₹100 per month. How can anyone maintain such a huge old structure with such a meagre amount? The state government has allowed us to hike the rent by 4% annually, which is another joke,” said Bambotia.
Advocate Vinod Sampat, who deals with real estate cases, said the act will encourage rental market. “People are afraid to give their flats and houses on rent, and such an authority will give them the confidence,” he said.