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‘I can now ask my tenant to pay market price’

The apex court's move to bring commercial premises at par with residential properties in the Capital, brings in mixed reactions, reports Karan Choudhury.
Hindustan Times | By Karan Choudhury, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 19, 2008 02:54 AM IST

“It has been about 40 years since we have rented our property at Ajmal Khan Road but we never really gained anything from it. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, now I can ask the tenants to pay the market price. It is about time the courts did something about the plight of property owners as well,” said Shyam Budhiraja from Karol Bagh.

In a few days’ time while some will hear cash registers ring, others may shut shops. The Supreme Court’s decision to bring commercial premises at par with residential properties in the Capital has brought in mixed reaction from all corners.

If property owners are happy with the sudden windfall, the tenants feel that this would be the end of the road for them.

“Property owners and tenants almost never shared a cordial relationship. And now they will pounce on this opportunity and throw almost everyone of us out,” said Bishan Seth, vice president of the shopkeepers association in Chandni Chowk. Seth currently pays Rs 109 per month as rent.

Just like Seth, many shopkeepers in Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk and Connaught Place have for long been paying rents as low as Rs 40 per month. Now the property owners, if they do not plan to evict these tenants, can ask for the going market rate of the properties.

Traders and shopkeepers in areas like Chandni Chowk and Karol Bagh have been around for many years. They flourished their businesses and created a lot of goodwill from these areas so they are not ready to let go.

“We have been here since 1947. We have given our life to this shop and are now enjoying the fruits of it. If the owner wants we can pay the market rent but we will not move out of here. By moving out of the premises we will loose 61 years of goodwill,” said Ravi Sehgal, owner of a jewellery shop in Chandni Chowk. The monthly rent that he pays is Rs 400.

Amid much confusion, there are some property owners who want to talk it out with their tenants.

“I do not feel cheated as we collected pagri when we rented the premises. From that money we bought other properties. We have prospered as well. Now I will ask my tenants and increase the rent which will be acceptable to them as well as us,” said S Murli Mani, owner of a property in Karol Bagh.

But if the matter is not solved in time then there will be trouble as traders predict.

“Anything can happen, we will close our shops or go on strikes. When it comes to our livelihood, we will do anything,” warned Sehgal.

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