Common Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Rights, Solutions, Settlement and Eviction process

Common landlord-tenant disputes rights, solutions, settlement and eviction process

 Landlord-tenant relationships are fundamental to housing and rental markets across India. However, disputes and conflicts often arise between landlords trying to protect their property and assets and tenants fighting to assert their occupancy rights and demand habitable living conditions. Key factors like skyrocketing urban housing costs, limited rent control, gaps and ambiguity in tenancy laws, lack of proper dispute resolution mechanisms, and power asymmetry between parties contribute to an adversarial dynamic.


Landlord-tenant disputes in India can stem from issues like rent nonpayment, maintenance, unauthorized alterations by tenants, and eviction procedures. Rent control laws impose rent caps, limit arbitrary evictions, and create authorities to balance rights, but they often need to be better implemented. Both parties have rights and obligations, including occupancy, timely rent payment, and restrictions on subletting. Importantly, alternate dispute resolution methods, like mutual negotiation with a mediator or binding arbitration by an independent party, are suggested instead of prolonged litigation. Proper legal procedures for eviction, involving giving sufficient written notice and obtaining eviction orders from rent controllers, are elucidated. This prevents landlords from taking illegal actions.It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the various factors that can lead to conflicts between landlords and tenants, including rent control laws, the rights and responsibilities of both parties and potential solutions for resolving disputes fairly and amicably. By adhering to proper procedures and maintaining open and honest communication, many conflicts can be avoided and prevented from escalating into costly and time-consuming legal battles.

Common Disputes Between Landlords and Tenants

Typically, disputes between a landlord and tenant arise for several reasons. Some of them are non-payment or delay in rent payments, carrying out unauthorized modifications in the rented property, subletting without the landlord’s permission, or refusing to evict the property even after an eviction notice.

Some frequent disputes between landlords and tenants:

  • Non-payment or delays in rent payment by tenants: Tenants failing to pay rent on time or at all is one of the most common sources of conflict. Late or missed payments can put a financial strain on landlords who have mortgages and expenses to cover. However, tenants may have valid reasons like job loss or medical issues. Clear communication and negotiated payment plans can often resolve these issues.
  • Unauthorized modifications or causing property damage:Tenants might make changes like repainting, drilling holes, or altering flooring without the landlord’s consent. This violates most lease agreements. Damages like broken appliances or ruined carpets due to negligence or improper use are also problematic. Landlords often deduct repair costs from security deposits, which tenants may dispute.
  • Disagreements over maintenance responsibilities and costs: Lease agreements should outline who is responsible for repairs and maintenance. Conflicts can arise over who should cover the costs of repairs like plumbing leaks and who should organize and pay for regular maintenance like HVAC servicing or gutter cleaning.
  • Denial of essential amenities like water or electricity supply by landlords: Landlords must provide essential utilities to tenants per rental laws. Sometimes, landlords may try to shut off utilities to force out tenants. This constructive eviction is illegal in most jurisdictions. Tenants should notify authorities if the landlord denies essential utilities.
  • Issues with security deposits-improper deductions or refusal to refund: Security deposit disputes often happen when tenants move out. Landlords may try to make unfair deductions for damages that should be considered normal wear and tear. Or they may refuse to return the deposit, claiming bogus damages. Tenants should thoroughly inspect and document the unit condition when moving out to contest any improper deductions.
  • Disturbance caused to neighbours: Excessive noise, pets, or unruly behaviour by tenants can disturb neighbours and lead to complaints. Landlords are responsible for intervening and enforcing community rules and standards. Repeated disturbances could lead to eviction if the tenant refuses to comply.
  • Subletting without the landlord’s permission: Subletting allows a tenant to rent out all or part of a property to another party. Most leases require landlord approval for subletting, which can be grounds for eviction. Landlords also need to screen subletters who will occupy the property.
  • Tenants refusing to vacate after lease expiry or receiving the eviction notice: Tenants who overstay a lease without permission or refuse to leave after receiving a valid eviction notice violate the agreement. The landlord must go through proper procedures to remove them. Refusal to leave after an eviction can lead to law enforcement involvement.

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Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

State-specific Rent Control Acts govern rent control laws in India. The laws set a maximum rent for a property, limit rent increases, and lay down tenant eviction rules. Violations can lead to fines or imprisonment. The acts aim to balance the interests of landlords and tenants to promote harmonious relations. However, implementation and dispute resolution still need to be improved.

Under rent control laws in various states, both landlords and tenants have well-defined rights and obligations.

Landlord Rights:

  • Receive timely payment of agreed rent: Tenants must pay the total amount of rent on time as per the lease agreement.
  • Issue eviction notice for valid:Landlords can issue formal eviction notices if the tenant violates the lease, like not paying rent or damaging the property.
  • Restrict subletting of their property: Landlords can prohibit tenants from subletting the rental property without the landlord’s written consent.
  • Entry to inspect premises at reasonable intervals after due notice: Landlords can enter the property to conduct inspections and make repairs after giving the tenant reasonable advance notice, such as 24 hours.

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Landlord Responsibilities:

  • Handover possession of property in habitable condition: Landlord must ensure the property is fit for occupancy upon move-in.
  • Carry out structural repairs and maintenance: The landlord must maintain the structural integrity and functionality of the property.
  • Provide essential amenities like water and electricity: Landlord must ensure basic utilities are available for tenant use.
  • Return the security deposit after adjusting any pending dues: Upon lease termination, the landlord must refund the security deposit, deducting any owed fees or damages.

Tenant Rights:

  • Right to stay for a fixed rental period if rent is paid on time: Tenants have the right to occupy the property for the agreed-upon duration if rent is paid punctually.
  • Privacy and quiet enjoyment of rental property: Tenants have the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property without undue interference from the landlord.
  • Demand timely repairs and maintenance from the landlord: Tenants can request prompt resolution of maintenance issues from the landlord.
  • Receive interest on the security deposit if not returned in time: If the security deposit is not refunded within the specified timeframe, tenants may be entitled to interest.

Tenant Responsibilities:

  • Pay rent in full and on time: Tenants must make timely and complete rental payments per the lease agreement.
  • Avoid causing damage to rental property: Tenants must avoid causing damage beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Allow landlord reasonable entry for inspection and repairs:Tenants should permit the landlord to enter the premises for necessary inspections and repairs with reasonable notice.
  • Notify the landlord before vacating the premises as per agreement: Tenants must inform the landlord in advance, as per the lease agreement, before vacating the property.

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Using Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

Landlords and tenants can opt for alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration to settle disputes amicably out of court.

Mediation—A neutral third-party mediator helps facilitate negotiations between the parties to reach a consensus-based solution. For example, in disputes over rental increases, the mediator can help both sides better communicate their situation and agree upon a reasonable rent amount acceptable to both.

Arbitration – Here, the landlord and tenant present their side of the dispute before an independent arbitrator who reviews the evidence and makes a binding decision. Arbitration can be faster and less expensive than going to court.

These amicable mechanisms based on mutual consent preserve the landlord-tenant relationship instead of making it adversarial through prolonged litigation. Tenant groups and rental housing associations often offer free or low-cost mediation services for rental disputes.

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Eviction Process and Important Considerations

If alternate dispute resolution fails, landlords can initiate the eviction process through the following:

  • Issuing legal notice to vacate:First, a written notice must be served to the tenant, giving them sufficient time to vacate as per state laws, usually 30 days. The notice must mention valid grounds for eviction, such as non-payment of rent.
  • Filing eviction lawsuit:If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in the local civil court. Summons are issued to the tenant to appear and present their side.
  • Court order and eviction:The court reviews evidence and issues a judgment. If judgment favours the landlord, the court can order the tenant to vacate within a specific period, following which a warrant of eviction can be forcibly carried out with police assistance.

Importantly, landlords cannot take extra-legal measures like cutting off essential amenities or using force to evict tenants. Due process of law must be followed. Tenants also have the right to defend themselves in court if they feel the eviction is invalid. Legal assistance from landlord-tenant attorneys is advisable for both parties during evictions.

Dispute Resolution is Key for Healthy Tenant-Landlord Relationships

Landlord-tenant disputes stemming from non-payment of rent, maintenance issues, unauthorized modifications, etc., are common but can be resolved amicably through constructive communication, adherence to laws protecting the rights of both parties and mechanisms like mediation or arbitration. Eviction must always be the last resort after following due legal process. Maintaining clear rental agreements and resolving disputes through dialogue, mutual understanding and dispute resolution proceedings can prevent acrimonious court battles and preserve harmonious tenant-landlord relationships.

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State-wise Overview of Eviction Laws in India

Rent control and tenancy laws fall under state jurisdiction in India. Here is a brief overview of eviction provisions under essential state laws:

  • Maharashtra– Under the Maharashtra Rent Control Act 1999, tenants can be evicted on grounds like non-payment of rent, subletting, nuisance behaviour, etc. Landlords must issue a 30-day notice period before filing for eviction.
  • Delhi – The Delhi Rent Control Act 1958 permits landlords to evict tenants if they fail to pay rent for two consecutive months or misuse the property. A one-month written notice is required before eviction proceedings.
  • Karnataka– The Karnataka Rent Control Act 2001 allows eviction on grounds like bonafide need of landlords, non-payment of rent for three months, property damage, etc. A 30-day eviction notice is mandated.
  • Tamil Nadu –Under the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants Act 2017, 15 days advance notice is required for eviction due to violation of tenancy terms.
  • West Bengal– The West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act 1997 specifies a 30-day eviction notice period. Monthly tenants can be evicted without any reason.


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 No, landlords cannot take such extra-legal measures to coerce tenants to vacate. Denial of essential utilities is an illegal constructive eviction, and tenants can notify authorities.

 No. Landlords must follow due process and issue proper advance eviction notices for 1-3 months, depending on state law, before initiating eviction proceedings through the rent controller.

 No, most states cap periodic rent increases by 10-15% over 3-5 years. Arbitrary increases are prohibited.

 Tenants require consent from the landlord as per the agreement to sublet any part of the rental property, failing which can be grounds for eviction.

 Landlords and tenants can mutually opt for alternate dispute resolution through mediation, where a neutral third party facilitates negotiation, or arbitration, where an independent arbitrator reviews evidence and makes a binding decision.

 Most state laws mandate landlords provide tenants at least 24-48 hours advance notice before entering for inspection and repairs to respect tenant privacy.

 Frequent disputes arise over issues like non-payment of rent, maintenance responsibilities, unauthorized alterations, excessive tenant disturbance, subletting without permission, retention of security deposits, and Denying essential utilities by landlords.

 Key tenant duties include:

  • Paying rent in full and on time.
  • Avoiding property damage.
  • Allowing the landlord reasonable entry for inspection and repairs after due notice.
  • Inform the landlord before moving out as per the agreement.

 Tenants become liable for eviction if they overstay lease expiry without permission unless the rent agreement is formally renewed with landlord consent.

 Key tenant rights include occupying the property for the contract duration if rent is paid, quiet enjoyment of premises, demanding timely repairs from the landlord, and receiving interest on the security deposit if it is not refunded after the tenancy ends.

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