When Surinder Kumar (name changed), a central government employee, shifted to New Delhi after his promotion, he moved into a two-bedroom rented apartment in an upmarket society in Dwarka. His landlord, who lived abroad, requested that Kumar provide him with an update on the developments in the society over the past six months. However, when Kumar asked for the same from the colony’s residents’ welfare association (RWA), he was turned away. Kumar recalls being told that only landlords and ‘real residents’ have the right to ask such questions and as a tenant, he should not interfere with the working of the RWA.
There are many tenants like Kumar, in Delhi, who continue to face neglect and partial treatment from the RWAs and landlords. The problems range from restrictions on the entry of visitors, to strict timelines being imposed on tenants to enter the premise. Saket Singh (name changed), who lives in Vasant Kunj’s upmarket society, agrees that the list of unreasonable expectations from tenants is huge. While Singh pays a heavy monthly rental and the RWA charges him maintenance and development charges, he is not invited to any colony event, festival celebrations or formal meetings of residents. He is now planning to leave the place, as his landlord is also not cooperative.
Why is there a problem with the way tenants are treated?
The problems of tenants, emanates from the fact that there is no regulation in the country that directly protects the rights of tenants. The proposed Draft Model Tenancy Act 2015, lays a number of provisions to safeguard the interests of tenants.
Delhi-based lawyer, Ekank Mehra explains how “The instances of such misbehaviour is more rampant in Delhi because there is a huge influx of people from outside states and landlords fear for their property being usurped. Law and order remains a concern. In the absence of regulation, tenants bear the brunt from landlords. The Draft Act provisions for a cap on rent, outlines the provisions for eviction and also enforces a fool-proof rental agreement.”
What is the solution?
Seek the help of your landlord: As of now, the provisions of the current law under the Delhi Apartment Ownership Act, prevail. As per this law, the tenant has similar rights over the common areas and facilities as the owner himself, if there is a registered agreement between the two. Thus, to enforce your basic rights, opt for a registered tenancy agreement.
“Moreover, it is advisable to talk to your landlord and ask him to introduce you to the RWA. This helps in creating a healthy relationship between the tenant and the RWA,” suggests Hardeep Batra, president of a RWA in west Delhi.
Organised versus unorganised areas: It is also advisable to look for apartments in the organised sectors and regions of Delhi.
Instances of harassment of tenants, are more prevalent in unorganised areas. Delhi has several Lal Dora regions, where rental rates are low. However, these are the areas where landlords prefer to have all their rental income in cash, without any registered deed. In the absence of legal documentation, one continues to suffer. Hence, it is better to opt for organised areas.