The Landlord-Tenant Conundrum

For Rent

More often than not, the relationship between landlords and tenants is hardly cordial, sometimes from the word ‘go’.
You may not find many instances where tenants leave a house or a commercial place without any ill feeling for his or her landlord. They have many axes to grind with their landlords.
Tenants complain that landlords perpetually dish out innumerable dos and dont’s and snoop on them. Sample this: do not hang pictures on the walls; do not entertain a large number of guests; no parties in this house; do not use too many electronic appliances; do not play loud music. The list can go on.
Normally, after a tough period of house-hunting, a tenant is so relieved to get a roof over his head that he agrees to all these conditions, only to avoid another arduous period of house-hunting.
But this is not to say that all houseowners are the same. Often, owners are overtly protective of their houses and issue diktats if only to safeguard their property from tenants, several of whom, it must be conceded, are negligent about the maintenance and upkeep of the house as it doesn’t belong to them. It is only when these conditions assume ridiculous proportions that they pose a nuisance to the tenants. Sanjay Khanna, the director of Kailash Nath Projects Pvt Ltd, says that tenants should keep in mind that they only rent a house or flat – they do not own it. “Respect the owner’s possessiveness towards the house and assure them that you will take proper care of their house. See that there is always a friendly relationship between the two of you.”
R P Rathod, an advocate at the Bombay high court, says: “The Supreme Court observed that a majority of the disputes between the landlords and the tenants would not reach the courts, if the tenant agrees to pay the present prevalent market rate of rent of the tenanted premises to the landlord. In that case the landlord would also be satisfied that he is getting adequate, just and proper return on his property. But the trend in the litigation between the landlords and the tenants shows otherwise. The tenant is happy paying a meagre amount of rent fixed years ago and the landlord continues to find various grounds under the rent act, to evict him somehow or the other. In most landlord-tenant disputes, there is no written contract and the tenants take advantage of the situation.”
Experts suggest that leakages and repairs are something that has to be physically checked by a prospective tenant: Make sure the owner rectifies what could be a chronic problem. Details regarding payments for repairs have to be settled amicably. Every repair need not be handled by the owner himself. A tenant can also share this responsibility with the owner’s consent. White-washing of the house is another issue that must be settled before a tenant enters the premises – it must be settled who would bear this recurring expense, or whether both the parties can share them in a certain proportion; the proportion must be mentioned in the rent agreement.
Nuzhat Alim, the director of ILD Group, says: “Owners should clarify the position on maintenance, but must not be too trusting of the tenant. You rent out your house only if you are satisfied with the prospective tenant.
“Check the credentials of the prospective tenant. References help. A double-check on his official designation will not hurt. Be clear about the tenure of the lease.”
Many tenants think the owners are petty minded and expect that they bear all the maintenance cost.
This has to be settled in the rent agreement to prevent any ugly showdowns later. Tenants should also understand the position of the owner, who has spent his lifetime savings and invested lakhs of rupees on the house and, naturally, will be very touch about his property, especially about its maintenance.
Making small concessions to accommodate each other’s wishes also helps. Owners should also appreciate that there are many other options for their tenants and a vacant house impacts upon their revenue substantially.
Those who respect these feelings are sure to earn the owner’s trust. Experts also say that tenants should be willing to vacate the house at the bidding of the owner and as mentioned in the agreement – that is according to the notice period mentioned there. Owners too should settle the dues on the day the tenant vacates the house.

Alok Kumar Upadhayay
Real Estate Professional


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