Legal Agreements

The Legalities of Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty

calendar19 Apr, 2023
timeReading Time: 8 Minutes
The Legalities of Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty

In India, lease agreements are legal contracts that set out the terms and conditions under which a tenant is allowed to use a property owned by the landlord. These agreements are governed by various laws and regulations, and they play an important role in the country’s real estate sector. One aspect of lease agreements that often goes overlooked is stamp duty – a tax paid on the documents that formalize such agreements. Depending on the type of property and what the tenants want, the terms and conditions of a lease agreement can be simple or complicated.

Lease Agreements in India – An Overview

A lease agreement is a contract in which one party (the landlord) agrees to rent out a property to another party (the tenant) for a stipulated period of time, often with an option to renew. This agreement sets out the rights and obligations of both parties, as well as any terms and conditions to which they must adhere. The terms and conditions of lease agreements can range from simple to complex, depending on the nature of the property and the requirements of the tenants.

In India, lease agreements are governed primarily by two pieces of legislation: the Transfer of Property Act of 1882 and the Rent Control Act of each state. The Transfer of Property Act is a comprehensive law that deals with the transfer of immovable property from one person to another. Section 105 of the Act deals with leases and states that “a lease of immovable property is a transfer of a right to enjoy the such property, made for a certain time, express or implied, or in perpetuity, in consideration of a price paid or promised, or of money, a share of crops, service, or any other thing of value, to be rendered periodically or on specified occasions to the transferor by the transferee, who accepts the transfer on terms”.

The Rent Control Acts of each State lay down the procedures for eviction and rent control and are designed to protect the rights of tenants. These Acts complicate the lease agreement process, as they set out the maximum rent that can be charged for certain types of properties and specify the conditions under which a landlord can evict a tenant.

Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty – The Legalities

The Legalities of Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty in India are significant topics for property owners and tenants alike. A lease agreement is a contract between the owner of the property and the tenant that outlines the terms and conditions of the lease. Stamp Duty is a tax that must be paid to the government when creating and registering a lease agreement. In India, the laws surrounding lease agreements and Stamp Duty are well-established, and numerous case laws have been decided by the courts over the years.

Stamp duty is a tax levied by the State governments when a document is registered with them. This tax is paid for the legal recognition of the document and is usually a percentage of the total value of the transaction. In the case of lease agreements, the stamp duty is usually a percentage of the total rent payable over the term of the lease.

One of the essential aspects of lease agreements in India is the payment of Stamp Duty. The Stamp Duty Act, of 1899, governs the payment of this tax. Under this act, Stamp Duty must be paid on any document that transfers, grants, or assigns any right, title, or interest in the immovable property above a certain value. Therefore, when it comes to leasing agreements, Stamp Duty must be paid on the lease document as it grants certain property rights to the tenant. According to the Indian Stamp Act, Stamp Duty rates vary from state to state and also depend on the location of the property.

The legal validity of a lease agreement is highly dependent on the payment of stamp duty, which is a requirement under Section 17 of the Indian Stamp Act of 1899[1]. This Section states that “All instruments chargeable with duty and executed by any person in India shall be stamped before or at the time of execution”. Failure to pay stamp duty can result in the lease agreement being deemed inadmissible as evidence in court or elsewhere. This makes stamping a lease agreement an important legal requirement that landlords and tenants must adhere to.

In addition to the legal requirement, paying stamp duty has other advantages. It makes the agreement a legally recognized document and thus reduces the risk of disputes, facilitates the registration of the lease agreement, and increases the property value. Despite this, many landlords and tenants avoid paying stamp duty, either due to ignorance or to save money.

Need of Lease Agreement and Stamp Duty

The purpose of a lease agreement is to protect both parties’ rights and interests while providing a reasonable amount of flexibility to both parties. While a verbal agreement can suffice, a written lease agreement provides added assurance and clarity for both the tenant and the landlord. In this way, a written agreement not only protects you against misunderstandings but also sets the basis for a good landlord-tenant relationship.

Lease agreements provide security to the landlord, as the lease can be used in court to settle any disagreements between the tenant and landlord. Furthermore, lease agreements provide security to the tenant by ensuring that they are not at risk of eviction during their lease term unless they violate the lease agreement’s terms.

Also, lease agreements spell out how much the rent and security deposit are, when they are due, and what the late fees are if the rent isn’t paid on time. A lease agreement makes it clear who is responsible for maintaining and fixing the property, how many people can live there, and if there are any restrictions or limits. The lease agreement also says how long the lease is for, how it can be renewed or extended, and how it can be ended.

Stamp duty is another thing to think about when putting together a lease agreement. Stamp duty is a kind of tax that is levied by the government on legal documents, such as agreements, leases, and contracts. It is a revenue-generating system for the government, and it varies from state to state. Once the lease agreement is decided, it needs to be printed on stamp paper in accordance with the state’s stamp duty rules. The stamp duty is to be paid to the government by the landlord and tenant depending upon the lease’s tenure and the agreed rental amount. The stamp duty is calculated based on the lease tenure and the amount of rent to be paid.

Thus, lease agreements are an essential legal document that outlines the expectations and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant. It provides a legal agreement for both parties, and in case of any disputes, this document can be used for clarification. Furthermore, stamp duty must be considered while preparing the lease agreement, as it is mandatory by law and helps secure property ownership. A well-drafted lease agreement can be a useful tool to ensure your real estate rental business runs smoothly and efficiently.

Legal Provisions Related to Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty

The amount of stamp duty to be paid for rental agreements varies from state to state. Some states, such as Maharashtra and Delhi, set high stamp duty rates to offset revenue losses due to rent control laws. Other states, such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab, have low stamp duty rates for rental agreements. In some states, stamp duty rates vary based on the rent amount and duration of the lease.

Even though stamp duty rates can vary, lease agreements must be registered everywhere in the country. Section 17(1) of the Registration Act, 1908, states that “no document required by Section 17 to be registered shall be accepted by any public officer unless it has been duly stamped as required by the Indian Stamp Act, 1899”. In addition, Section 18 of the Registration Act states that “every document which is required to be registered under Section 17 shall, unless duly registered, not affect any immovable property comprised therein, confer any power to adopt, or be received as evidence of any transaction affecting such property or conferring such power”.

The same section also stipulates that a lease agreement for a term longer than 12 months must be registered. Failure to register such an agreement renders it inadmissible as evidence in abetment or denial of a claim or action under the agreement.

Topic     Provision/Case Law
Lease Agreement   The Transfer of Property Act, 1882
  Section 105 – Definition of Lease  
  Section 108 – Rights and Liabilities of Lessor and Lessee  
  Section 114 – Presumption as to Holding Over  
  Section 116 – Claim for Rent on Determination of Lease  
  Raja J.R.A. Chelliah v. Deputy Commercial Tax Officer (2010) – Defining lease as a transfer of a right to enjoy.    
  Goodyear India Ltd. v. State of Haryana (2011) – Lease agreements is subject to stamp duty.  
Topic     Provision/Case Law
Stamp Duty The Indian Stamp Act, 1989  
  Article 5 – Lease Agreements  
  Article 27 – Agreement relating to deposit of title deeds, pawn or pledge  
  Article 36 – to Sell Agreement
  Article 45 – Power of Attorney  
  State of Haryana v. Goodyear India Ltd. (2009) – Stamp duty on lease agreements must be paid upon execution.  

Case Laws Related to Lease Agreements and Stamp Duty

  • Shailendra Nath Gupta vs. Brij Mohan

In the case of Shailendra Nath Gupta vs. Brij Mohan, the court held on the importance of registering lease agreements and paying stamp duty is apparent in several legal cases, where parties have sought to evade these requirements with negative outcomes.

  • Jagdambika Pal v. Union of India

In the case of Jagdambika Pal v. Union of India (1998 AIR 370), the court ruled that Stamp Duty must be paid on both the original lease agreement and any renewal or extension of the lease. The court stated that if the lease is extended without paying the Stamp Duty, it will be considered as an unregistered instrument, and the parties will be liable for penalties.

  • Mugneeram Bangur & Co. and Ors v. Devidayal Mills Ltd.

Another crucial aspect of lease agreements is the duration and renewal of the lease. It is essential to note that a lease cannot be signed for a term exceeding 30 years. If the term of the lease is more than 30 years or contains a clause for automatic renewal, it will be void under Section 107 of the Transfer of Property Act. In the case of Mugneeram Bangur & Co. and Ors v. Devidayal Mills Ltd. (1971 AIR 231), the court held that the renewal of a lease must be expressly stated in the original lease agreement. It cannot be assumed or implied and must be in writing.

  • Kunhayammed and Ors v. State of Kerala

One of the most critical features of lease agreements is the rent amount and its periodic payment. The landlord has the right to revise the rent amount at regular intervals, and the tenant has the right to contest such revisions. The case of Kunhayammed and Ors v. State of Kerala (2000 AIR 2587) established the principle that if a lease agreement grants a right to the landlord to fix a revised rent amount during the terms of the lease, such a clause must be explicit and unambiguous. In this case, the court held that a clause that allowed the landlord to fix a revised rent at his discretion was void and unenforceable.

  • Bapu Shankar v. Digambar Shankar

Another crucial aspect of lease agreements is the termination of the lease. The Rent Control Act, of 1948, regulates the termination of tenancy agreements. Under this act, a landlord can only terminate a lease agreement if the tenant fails to pay rent, sublets the property without permission, or uses the property for illegal purposes. In the case of Bapu Shankar v. Digambar Shankar (1951 AIR 177), the court held that a landlord cannot terminate a lease agreement without valid grounds, and the tenant has the right to remain in the property until the tenancy is legally terminated.


Lease agreements and Stamp Duty payments are significant aspects of property ownership and tenancy in India. The Stamp Duty Act governs the payment of stamp duty, and the Transfer of Property Act regulates lease agreements. Lease agreements must contain explicit clauses for the duration, renewal, rent amount, and termination of the lease. Violations of these clauses can result in legal consequences for both parties involved. Therefore, property owners and tenants should ensure that their lease agreements are legally secure and enforceable.

Read Our Article: What Is The Structure Of A Lease Agreement & Procedure In India?