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What are the Defenses A Tenant Establishes in A Tenancy Dispute?

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The Dispute related to the tenancy dispute involves the eviction of the tenant from the rented premises and acquiring the possession back to the landlord. The nature of dispute further involves, the payment of arrears of rent and other conditions on which the tenant can be evicted.

The tenant is vulnerable to the eviction from his possession in the rented premises, therefore, various state governments have enacted legislation related to the tenancy creating a legal sanction or process for evicting a tenant.

The law protects the possession of the tenant from unnecessary eviction and laid down grounds on which the tenant can be evicted by filing a suit for eviction by the landlord.

Therefore, tenant uses lofty arguments which usually fail in the proceedings before the Courts. This article complies those arguments which are relied on by the tenant while defending their eviction from the tenanted premises.

Index

Where Suits for Eviction of the Tenant is filed?

The trial of the suit for eviction is held before the Civil Judge class – II rank judicial officer having the jurisdiction where the property is situated as per Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Though, state legislations have delegated the power for the trial of such suit before the Rent Control Authority. It is wholly, dependent upon the nature of the suit which shall determine the trial to be conducted. The laws generally designated the trial for eviction suit before the Rent Control Authority in special cases. The remaining suits other than special cases are tried by the Civil Court having jurisdiction.

As per the MP Accommodation Control Act, 1969, the law has created special provisions from Section 23-A to 23-J for trial before the Rent Control Authority for the ‘bona fide’ eviction of the tenant.


Also Read: The Latest Judgements Related to Tenancy Disputes

What are the laws for Tenancy of the Major States in India?

The Constitution of India is enacted with the principle of a federal system of governance. The State list compromises the subjects on which the State legislature can frame and enact laws.

Therefore, as per the State List Entry 18, the land tenures related to the landlord and tenants comes under the State Subject. For this reason, different states have formulated different laws in relation to tenancy disputes:

Some of the 5 States with their Tenancy Law

States Tenancy Laws
Maharashtra Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999
Delhi Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958
Uttar Pradesh UP Regulation of Rent and Eviction Act, 2010
Madhya Pradesh MP Accommodation Control Act, 1969
Haryana Haryana Urban (Rent Control and Eviction) Act, 1973

 

This article will focus on the grounds of eviction from the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, 1969.

The grounds for eviction of the tenant has been prescribed under Section 12(1) of the Act. The tenant in violation of any one or more of these grounds can be evicted by filing a civil suit before the jurisdiction of the civil court.

The Act also states provisions under Section 13 whereby, the tenant has to comply with the provisions for securing his possession over rented premises. The consequences for not complying with the provision under Section 13 will result in the Court will reject the defense raised by the tenant in the suit for eviction. The tenant will ultimately lose the possession of the rented premises and the defense established by the tenant will not be considered by any Court of law.

Other than that, under Section 19, prescribe the provisions for accommodation for a limited period of tenanted premises or a part of the premises for special purpose after which the expiration of the period the

What are the Defenses the Tenant can raise and its counter-argument?

A Tenant has a possession over the landowner’s property which is a well establishes the fact in a tenancy agreement. The landowner due to market operations or through other circumstances takes the decision of selling the whole property whereby, the title of the ownership of the property gets transferred. Thereby a new landowner acquires the title ownership over the whole property.

The transfer of ownership also compromises the transfer of title over the rented premises which is a part and parcel of such change in title ownership. The tenant in such a case has no say and possession remains with the tenant of the property.

Though in such situation the tenant speculates and comes to a conclusion whereby it believes that the change of title is frivolous, which results in a dispute between the new landowner and the tenant. Whereby, the tenant in the suit for eviction raises the question over the imperfect title of the new landlord over the property.

This ground can only be raised in a situation where the transfer of ownership is not properly stamped and registered. The tenant with the above legal question also devolves into non-payment of rent to the new landowner believing that the tenant has no obligation for payment towards the new landowner. Does the tenant is allowed to make non-payment of rent?

The question has been answered through several judgements.

As it can be seen from the Srimal Jain vs Pankaj Kumar case of the MP High Court, it was held that a tenant while raising the defense of the imperfect title of the landlord does not allow him for nonpayment of rent. There is no legal sanction for the tenant from not paying the rent while the nature of tenancy is in dispute.

Also, in the case of Vipendra Singh vs Ramchandra Jain, in which a suit for eviction under Section 12(6) was filed by the landowner and the tenant in its defense raises the question of ownership title of the new landowner. The tenant during the pendency of the suit did not deposit any rent for 26 years. Therefore, the Court struck down the defense of the tenant as per Section 13(6) of the Act and the eviction order was confirmed.

Therefore, raising such defense before the Court requires proper compliance by the Tenant in regular payment of the rent.


Also Read: What Actions Can A Secured Creditor Have Against A Tenant In Possession Of Secured Asset?

Bona fide Need For The Premises Must Be Proved Inaccurate.

The Landlord in the suit for eviction of the tenant can produce a ground for the bonafide need of the rented property for establishing a business or expanding the business or for the need of residence for any member of the family [Section 12(1)-  (e)&(f) of the Act].

Where the landowner requires the rented premises for bona need the tenant in defense has to prove that no requirement for the bona fide need is required. Though in multiple judgements the bona fied need for the landlord is very hard to challenge before the Courts.

As observed in the case of Mahesh Kumar Modi vs Mahendra Kumar where the suit for eviction of the tenant was filed for the bona fide need in starting a business for the landlord’s son. The tenant in defense pointed out that it is barred by res judicata because a similar suit was filed by the landlord for bona fide need for his business which resulted in the tenant acquiring possession of the premises. The Court rejected the tenant’s allegation and held that for a reasonable accommodation it should be understood from the requirement of the landowner rather than the allegation of the tenant or the opinion of the Court.

Similarly, in the case of Manoj Notwani vs Smt. Varsha Chandani where eviction suit was filed for the bona fide need for the business of the landlord. The tenant objected by stating that, out of 27 shops of the landlord, he had 2 shops, not in use and can operate his business out from them. The Court herein also rejected the argument by quoting several judgements and held that the requirement is for the landlord for a specific purpose, therefore, the landlord is the best Judge for his bona fide need and the Courts should not interfere with it.

The suit for eviction has to be conducted by and against the necessary parties. If the necessary parties are not tried the legal protection and rights cannot be enforced by the civil court. The Tenant can raise the question regarding the necessary party because the ground for eviction will be tried in the presence of active representation of requirement from the necessary party in the suit.

As the requirement is for the bona fide need of the rented property, the law has given the right to evict the tenant for the benefit of the member of the family or for the business of the son or unmarried daughter. Therefore, the landlord in relations such as father-son or mother-son vice versa has to be framed as a necessary party in the suit.

However, such defense can be changed due to circumstantial evidence applicable between the parties. As observed in the case of Purushottam Shrinivas vs Bhagwandas and Others, wherein the suit for eviction was filed by Grandmother for the bona fide requirement for her grandson starting a business in the rented premises. In between the trial, she died and her son and the grandson was brought into as the parties to the suit.

The tenant before the appellate court raised two questions that, the bona fide requirement for grandson is illegal because the law specifies bona fide requirement for a son or unmarried daughter only. Also, the suit was instituted for the bona fide need of the grandson who at that time had not attained the age of majority and was 6 months away.

The Court, however, negated the arguments because such defense by the tenant was raised before the First Appellate Court because of which no issues related to the necessary party or the age of the grandson was formed before the trial. The Court also held that such allegation is not sustainable because during the pendency of the suit the son and the grandson of the original petitioner were joinder in parties before the trial Court brought through an amendment in the plaint.

Therefore, due to the change in subsequent events between the nature of disputes of the parties the defense of the tenant is not applicable.

Conclusion

The protection to the tenant possession is protected by the law. The landlord’s right to evict the tenant has been limited by the law. The legal battle for acquiring the possession has been fixed by the law for both the tenant and the landowner. Therefore, both the parties have to take necessary and valid steps in formulating their own interest. The landowner validity for eviction is dependent upon if there is a legal provision in operation, therefore a justifiable ground is fixed by the law. No tenant can be evicted without the operation of the legal provisions against him. The tenant can defend only by negating the legal grounds raised by the landowners. The tenant also has to make sure that it does not violate any legal provision that may weaken is defense.


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