Rental Agreement

Things to Keep in Mind Before Renting a House

calendar17 Apr, 2023
timeReading Time: 7 Minutes
Renting a House

Renting a House is a common practice among people worldwide. It is a viable solution for those who cannot afford to buy a property, those who do not plan to stay in a particular city for long, or those who do not wish to take the responsibility of maintaining a property. However, before deciding to rent a house, it is essential to keep a few things in mind to ensure a smooth legal experience.

Things to Consider Before Renting a House

  • The first and foremost thing to consider is the legal aspect of renting a house. As a tenant, it is crucial to know your rights and obligations. Both the landlord and the tenant have certain duties and responsibilities, which they must fulfil to maintain a good and healthy relationship.
  • The law of the land governs rental agreements, and each country has its set of landlord-tenant laws that must be followed. Therefore, before renting a house, it is advisable to do thorough research and understand the relevant laws in your area. This helps you to make informed decisions and can save you from any legal hassles.
  • One of the essential legal aspects of renting a house is the rental agreement. It is a legal document that specifies the terms and conditions of the tenancy. This agreement must be carefully reviewed before signing, and any doubts or queries must be clarified with the landlord.
  • The rental agreement should include details such as the duration of the tenancy, the rent amount, payment due date, late payment penalties, security deposit, maintenance responsibility, and other essential terms. It is advisable to ensure that the agreement is fair and legally binding for both parties.
  • Another crucial aspect to think about is the security deposit. The security deposit is a sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord to cover any damage or repairs required to the property after the tenant leaves. It is essential to ensure that the security deposit amount is within the legal limits and that the terms and conditions regarding the return of the deposit are clearly stated in the rental agreement.
  • Additionally, the tenant should inspect the property before moving in and record any existing damages, repairs, or maintenance requirements in writing. This can help to avoid any disputes or liabilities at the end of the tenancy.
  • Furthermore, it is essential to understand the eviction laws in your area. In the event of a dispute between the landlord and tenant, the eviction process can be complicated and time-consuming. Therefore, it is crucial to know your rights and obligations in such a situation. In some cases, it may be advisable to seek legal counsel to ensure proper representation.
  • It is also important to be aware of the responsibilities and duties of both the landlord and tenant regarding maintenance and repair. The rental agreement should outline the specific maintenance obligations of both parties clearly. The tenant should ensure that they do not cause any intentional or unintentional damage to the property and report any maintenance or repair issues to the landlord immediately.
  • On the other hand, the landlord should ensure that the property is in a habitable condition and undertake any necessary repairs promptly. Failure to do so can lead to legal issues and disputes between the landlord and tenant.
  • The occupancy limit is another aspect that is often overlooked by tenants. The rental agreement should specify whether the house is for single occupancy or whether it can accommodate multiple people. Overcrowding can lead to health and safety concerns, and it is vital to ensure that this is not violated.

Acts and Provisions Relating to Renting a House

Before renting a house, there are certain things that one should keep in mind from a legal point of view. The main objective of signing a rental agreement is to establish a legal relationship between the landlord and the tenant. Renting a house involves rights and responsibilities for both parties. Therefore, it is important to understand the legal aspects associated with renting a house.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872

The Indian Contract Act, of 1872 governs the rental agreement between the tenant and the landlord. As per Section 10 of this Act, an agreement is considered a contract when it is entered into with the free consent of both parties. Free consent is defined under Section 14 of this Act, which states that consent is considered free when it is not caused by coercion, undue influence, fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake. The rental agreement between the tenant and the landlord should be made with free consent.

Any agreement made with undue influence is void as per Section 16 of this Act. It means that if the landlord uses his/her position to influence the tenant to sign the agreement, then the agreement will be considered void.

The Transfer of Property Act, 1882

The Transfer of Property Act of 1882 governs the transfer of property from the landlord to the tenant. Section 106 of this Act imposes certain duties on the landlord, for example, he/she is responsible for maintaining the house in a habitable condition, providing services and facilities as mentioned in the rental agreement, and not disturbing the tenant’s possession of the house. If the landlord fails to perform these duties, the tenant can approach the court for relief.

Section 107 of this Act deals with the rental agreement. It requires the agreement to be in writing and signed by both parties. The agreement should clearly state the rent amount, the period of tenancy, and terms and conditions related to the tenancy. If these details are not mentioned in the agreement, it will be considered a monthly tenancy, and the landlord can terminate the agreement by giving 15 days’ notice to the tenant.

The Rent Control Acts

Rent Control Acts have been enacted by various states in India to regulate rent and prevent landlords from charging exorbitant rents. These Acts place a cap on the amount of rent that can be charged by the landlord. The Rent Control Acts vary from state to state. For example, in Delhi, the Delhi Rent Control Act is applicable, while in Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Rent Control Act is applicable.

The Maharashtra Rent Control Act[1] of 1999 provides for various provisions related to rent control such as the determination of standard rent, the maximum amount of rent that can be charged, eviction of tenants, and protection of tenants from eviction. This Act also provides for the setting up of rent courts to address disputes related to non-payment of rent, illegal occupancy, and eviction.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986

The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 is applicable when a tenant rents a house from a builder or a developer. In such cases, the tenant can approach the consumer court for relief in case of any dispute. The Act defines a ‘consumer’ as a person who buys any goods or services for consideration.

Section 2(1)(d) of the Act defines ‘service’ as a service of any description which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of accommodation in hotels, boarding houses, or any other similar establishments. Therefore, renting a house can be considered as a service under the Consumer Protection Act, of 1986.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian Penal Code of 1860 provides for certain provisions related to renting a house. For example, if the landlord forcibly evicts the tenant, it will be considered an offense punishable under Section 441 of the Code which deals with criminal trespass. Similarly, if the landlord interferes with the tenant’s possession of the house or causes damage to the property, it will be considered an offense punishable under Section 427 which deals with mischief.

  Aspects of Law     Things to Keep in Mind
Agreement The rent agreement should be in writing and duly signed by both parties.  
Security Deposit The security deposit should not exceed more than two months’ rent.  
Rent The landlord can increase the rent only once a year with a prior notice of 15 days.  
Repairs The landlord should be responsible for all repairs that are not caused by the tenant’s actions, whereas the tenant should take responsibility for any damages caused by them.  
Eviction The landlord cannot evict the tenant without a valid reason and a notice period of 30 days.  
Notice Period Both parties should provide a notice period for termination of the agreement, which is usually 30 days.  
Tenant’s Rights The tenant has the right to peaceful occupation, privacy, and no unreasonable disturbances from the landlord.  
Landlord’s Rights The landlord has the right to conduct regular inspections of the property with prior notice and can enter the property during an emergency without notice.  
Maintenance Charges Maintenance charges for the property should be agreed upon and mentioned in the rent agreement.  
Legal Documentation Ensure that all legal documentation, such as the rent agreement and receipts, are in place and duly signed.  

Case Laws Relating to Renting a House

Following are the case laws relating to renting a house:

P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju, AIR 2000 SC 2083

In this case, the Supreme Court held that the term of the rental agreement cannot be extended by implication. The parties must specifically agree to the extension of the agreement. The court also held that the landlord cannot impose unilateral terms on the tenant.

Kundan Lal v. Naresh Kumar, AIR 1994 SC 675

In this case, the Supreme Court held that a tenant cannot be evicted from the house without proper notice from the landlord. The notice should be in writing and should clearly state the grounds for eviction. The tenant should be given sufficient time to vacate the house after receiving the notice.

Musaliar Vs. Valiyaveettil (AIR 1984 Ker 155)

In the case of Musaliar Vs. Valiyaveettil (AIR 1984 Ker 155), the court had held that a verbal agreement between the landlord and the tenant does not hold any value in court, and it is mandatory to have a written Rental Agreement. The court observed that a verbal agreement can lead to ambiguity and disputes in the future.

Prem Singh Vs. Birbal Nath (AIR 1986 SC 1571)

In the case of Prem Singh Vs. Birbal Nath (AIR 1986 SC 1571), the court held that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property, and any damage caused due to natural wear and tear is the landlord’s responsibility. However, if the tenant causes any deliberate damage, then the tenant is liable to pay for the repair work.

M. Venkatesh Vs. R. Muthyalu (AIR 2012 Mad 181)

In the case of M. Venkatesh Vs. R. Muthyalu (AIR 2012 Mad 181), the court held that the Security Deposit cannot be withheld by the landlord without any justifiable cause. The court observed that the Security Deposit should be returned to the tenant within a reasonable period after the end of the tenancy period.

Vipin Nair Vs. Neena S. (AIR 2013 Ker 85)

In the case of Vipin Nair Vs. Neena S. (AIR 2013 Ker 85), the court held that the Notice Period mentioned in the Rental Agreement should be followed strictly, and failure to comply with the Notice Period can lead to legal complications.

Asma Bibi Vs. State of Orissa (AIR 1945 Ori 215)

In the case of Asma Bibi Vs. State of Orissa (AIR 1945 Ori 215), the court held that the jurisdiction and the applicable law depend on the location of the rented premises. The court observed that the applicable law should be followed strictly, and failure to comply with the applicable law can lead to legal complications.

Conclusion

In conclusion, renting a house is a significant financial decision and requires careful consideration of the legal aspects to ensure a smooth and legal experience. As a tenant, understanding your rights and obligations regarding the rental agreement, security deposit, eviction laws, maintenance, repair, and occupancy limit can help you to make informed decisions and avoid any legal hassles in the future.

Read our Article:Know What Are All The Legal Rights Of A Tenant

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