Landlord’s death does not affect eviction order passed in his favour

Landlord’s death does not affect eviction order passed in his favour

Eviction order can’t be revoked in the eventuality of the landlord’s death

The recent judgement passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has made it clear that the death of the landlord does not affect the eviction order passed in his favour on the ground of personal necessity.

It has been clarified that once an eviction order is passed against a tenant recognizing the personal need of the landlord, the order will stand. It will protect and benefit the dependants of the landlord even if the landlord dies during the revision proceedings filed by such tenants against the order of eviction. Death of the landlord will not affect the order adversely.

In India, every State has its piece of legislation in the matter of rent control and regulation. In Punjab, we have Punjab Rent Act, 1995, which came into force in the year 2013. The Act aims to create a balance between landlord and tenants interest.

Recommended reading: Landlord Tenant Dispute

It is necessary to protect a tenant against the mischief of the landlord and to secure his stay in the rented accommodation. At the same time, even the landlord’s rights have to be secured. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to protect one’s property from an errant tenant who refuses to vacate the rented premises even if the landlord is justified in demanding so. Eviction through court is not easy.

Eviction of tenant:

The Act of 1995 has widened the scope of eviction of a tenant from the rented accommodation. Some of the grounds seeking eviction order are:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Premises has become unsafe
  • Premises requires repairs
  • Alternate accommodation is available with the tenant or his family member
  • Violation of lease agreement, Misuse of premises
  • Subletting
  • The personal necessity of the landlord or any member of his family if no other suitable accommodation is available after three years of purchase or transfer.

Recommended reading: Landlord Tenant laws

The legislature has used the words personal necessity of the landlord or any member of his family. Thus under the Act, landlord or any member of his family are on the same footing as far as personal necessity is concerned. If no suitable accommodation is available with the landlord or his family member, eviction of a tenant can be sought on the ground of personal necessity.

The recent judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has interpreted and explained personal necessity. It says that the statute (Act of 1995) itself recognizes the personal necessity of the landlord as well as his family members. The death of the landlord during the pendency of the revision petition does not affect the rights of his legal heirs adversely. The tenants contended that the personal necessity of the landlord comes to an end with his death. The court negated the same and upheld the eviction order passed in favour of the landlord.

Recommended reading: Remedies for a landlord if the tenant refuses to leave after an eviction notice

Once a landlord has pleaded and successfully established his necessity, the members of his family residing with him or his dependants should not be put to hardship.

It will not be out of place to mention here that the Government of India has proposed The Model Tenancy Act, 2019. The Act aims to encourage landlords to rent out their properties by ensuring speedy dispute resolution and transparency in the housing area. It will rationalize the rent rate also as the supply of residential accommodation would increase. The Government wants to achieve a target of housing for all by 2022.

The rent laws have been considered as pro tenants most of the time. The recent judgment of the High Court has given a liberal interpretation to personal necessity clause favouring the landlord. It will undoubtedly help to boost the confidence of the landlord for justified eviction of tenants and pleading for an eviction order in court.

Steps to evict a tenant in India

Steps to evict a tenant in India

In India, laws governing tenancy tend to favour tenants and they differ from state to state. However, there are some grounds for eviction of a tenant which are common in most of the state laws.

Grounds for eviction

If the tenant is using the property for a purpose other than that mentioned in the rental agreement, or he has not paid the rent for a for a period more than 15 days or the period mentioned in the rental agreement.

If the tenant has further sublet the premises without the permission of the landlord. If any significant damage is caused to the property resulting in loss of utility or value of the property, or premises are being used for purposes which are considered to be illegal or immoral by law, causing nuisance in the neighbourhood whereby they have confirmed it in writing that the further living of tenant is objectionable to them.

Besides these reasons, there are some other bonafide reasons on the basis of which eviction can be claimed for example, when the landlord needs the premises for his self-occupation or when there is some major repairs to be performed which is not possible unless the premises are cleared and finally if the premises are to be demolished. If any of the above-mentioned reasons are applicable, the landowner can file a suit for eviction on the basis of the rules mentioned in the rental agreement.

Steps for Tenant Eviction

A Landowner must follow these steps in order to ensure a successful case of eviction.

Firstly, he must determine a logical and just reason for eviction.

Secondly, provide the tenant a registered acknowledgement due to the eviction notice. Once the tenant has acknowledged the acceptance, the landlord can keep it as a proof of his acknowledgement.

Thirdly, if now also the tenant doesn’t move out, the acknowledgement letter and the rent agreement can be used to file a suit in an appropriate Civil Court of jurisdiction. It is of immense importance that the landlord should not take recourse to any illegal measure like cutting essential utilities, forcing out the tenant, changing the locks and entering the premises without permission, because it might work against the landlord; considering the fact that in India laws are tougher on the landlord.

If the Court allows the petition/appeal of the landlord and grants some time to the tenant to vacate the premises and the tenant still not vacates, then the tenant shall be evicted by the Police force.[1]

[1] Ram Prakash Sharma v. Babulal Irla and Ors, (2011) 6 SCC 449.

How to Evict the Tenant

How to Evict the Tenant

Firstly, an eviction notice is the first legal action for a landlord for removing his/her tenant. In case tenant fails to comply according to the notice, a landlord may file a suit for eviction of the tenant in the court of law. In India, there are limited number of reasons for which a tenant can be evicted by the landlord. These reasons may be different according to the state of living in. However, there is no harm in serving an eviction notice against the tenant. Eviction notice includes a deadline to pay rent or move out; it includes the amount owed.

The landlord should have valid reasons to evict the tenant such as non-payment, violating lease agreement, making noise or health ordinances etc. landlord have to give proof of any claim against the tenant. Tenant is “innocent until proven guilty”.

The eviction notice should be to the point, and fair reason should be given for eviction i.e. inform the tenant how he or she has violated the terms and conditions of the lease. A landlord should give prior 15 days’ notice for the eviction of property.

Eviction Notice generally includes the following:

  • The offence (reason for which owner is giving eviction notice)
  • A time period to remedy the offence
  • The date on which notice was served
  • Signature of the landlord

In case if the rent has not been paid for months, without the court order landlord cannot:

  • Physically remove the tenant
  • Cannot remove the tenant’s property
  • Lock the tenant out
  • Change the locks
  • Shut off the utilities (such as light, water etc.)

Reasons for eviction of the tenant:

  1. Failure to pay rent: This is the most common and strongest reason for eviction of tenant. Even if the rent is delayed by more than 15 days, it’s enough to evict.
  2. Sub-letting: In this case, if the tenant is letting out the property to another, hosting a friend or family member for an extended period then the landlord can serve the eviction notice against him.
  3. Commercial use: If the tenant decides to run a business on the property, even landlord could be in trouble. In this case, the landlord could immediately choose to evict him, or even the property is used by tenant other than the purpose mentioned in the contract then also landlord can evict him.
  4. Property Damage: it is an apparent reason which is usually mentioned in agreement that any harm done to the property will be recovered from the tenant.
  5. Society Problems: In this case, if the behaviour of the tenant is not satisfactory according to the society, landlord may evict the tenant.