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Story behind the new Delhi Rent Act

An amended form of the 1958 Act, it asserts the right of the owners of the property, not even giving relief to old commercial tenants, reports Avishek G Dastidar.
Hindustan Times | By Avishek G Dastidar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 19, 2008 02:53 AM IST

For more than a decade, the Delhi Rent Act has been ready to be notified but the government has not done the needful. Property owners see this as a nexus between the “rich shopkeepers and politicians”, but traders say that the Act would render thousands jobless and that's why the government never notified it.

The Act, an amended form of the original one formed in 1958, asserts the right of the owners of the property and does not give relief to even old commercial tenants. “It has provisions for periodic increase of rent and the viction clause, both of which are opposed by those who have got used to years of free lunch,” said Kalia.

According to property dealers, the rent of shops in prime areas like CP, South Extension and Karol Bagh is between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000 per square feet. However, old tenants pay as less as Rs 50.

In the meantime, the value of property has increased manifold without benefiting the owners.

“I sold a shop to Sreeleathers a few years ago because tenancy was not profitable anymore. Now its value has shot up to 100 crore owing to the Metro,” said TR Anand, owner of Regal Building and a host of other properties in Delhi.

Traders say that if notified, the Rent Act would wreak havoc on millions of lives. “Each shop employs at least 20 people. So the overall impact of the Act would be on so many families,” said Manoj Aggarwal of Mohanlal and Sons in Connaught Place.

In the mid 1990s, when the draft Act first came into existence, scores of traders took the protests to the streets, shutting down Delhi for days at length.

“They are a more powerful lot who hold the city at ransom so that's why the Act has been tossed to the cold storage for good,” said Kalia.

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