Govt. proposes Model Tenancy Act to balance interests

It has specific features on dispute redressal, says Ashok

In a move aimed at protecting the interests and rights of both landlords and tenants, the Karnataka government proposes to introduce the Model Tenancy Act, circulated by the Union government, with specific features on dispute redressal.

“We are simplifying the current Tenancy Act. While earlier the government had a role in fixing the rent, it is now proposed that the rent should be fixed mutually by both landlord and tenant. Both need to legalise the agreement and upload it on a portal,” Revenue Minister R. Ashok told presspersons here on Thursday. “In case of a dispute, the official concerned will have to settle the matter within 60 days. There will be no more than three chances to postpone the hearing,” he said.

Vacant houses

The Model Tenancy Act was approved by the Union Cabinet on June 2 and assumes importance for Karnataka as it has the fourth highest number of vacant houses in the country, with some 7.59 lakh vacant houses according to Census 2011. Mr. Ashok estimated the number of vacant houses in Bengaluru alone to be between 2 lakh and 3 lakh. In the country, the Census 2011 pegs the total number of vacant houses to be around 1.1 crore while housing shortage has been estimated at 1.87 crore.

The Revenue Minister said, “This is just a proposal and we are expecting feedback from the public before it is officially introduced in Karnataka.” He said that if the new Act comes into force, rents are expected to come down.

Prime features

The model Act will provide for subletting of premises, but with prior consent of the landlord and caps the security deposit to two months rent in case of residential premises and six months rent in case of non-residential premises.

To protect the interest of the tenant, the model Act bars the landlord from withholding essential supplies/services and the tenant cannot be evicted during the currency of the tenancy period. In case of dispute, the tenant has to continue paying rent during the pendency of dispute. Among others, the landlord can engage property managers to manage the property.

Rent Authority, Rent Court, and Rent Tribunal could be set up to hear complaints and appeals in case of disputes, and jurisdiction of civil courts has been barred.

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