Fun fact : Did you know that in a standard gated community, close to 40% of the resident population is tenants? In such a scenario, where tenancy is increasing with a constant moving workforce population, it is extremely important for all parties to be aware of the rights of tenants and their duties in the community. It is the responsibility of the society management to acquaint all residents, owners and tenants alike, of all the laws and regulations that govern the relationship of a tenant and owner. This clear communication ensures a healthy social fabric of the community and at large a healthy tenancy practice in the country.
Rights of Tenants and their duties
- Legal Agreement : Every tenant is within their complete right to demand for a written agreement clearly stating the terms and conditions of the tenancy. Such a document comprise the following basic information along with suitable add ons:
a. Name of Landlord(s)
b. Name of Tenant(s)
c. Move-in Date
d. Validity of Agreement
e. Agreed Rent, Maintenance Charges, Electricity & Water charges
f. Agreed Security Deposit (This is refundable after agreed deductions)
g. Compulsory deductions on Security Deposit like Painting charges
h. Itemised list of furnishings
i. Notice Period for Vacating house
j. Percentage of rent increase on Agreement renewal
- Property Maintenance : Both the tenant and owner are jointly responsible for maintaining the property. The tenant has no right to cause any major structural modifications to the property without the explicit written permission of the owner. Barring the normal wear and tear, any major damage to the property must be immediately informed to the owner. Expenses for rectifying such damage must be borne either by the tenant (in case, the damage was caused due to their negligence) or by the owner (in case the damage is the result of a structural infirmity).
- Uninhabitable Conditions : If the tenant feels and can prove that the maintenance cost of the property is exceeding 50% of the agreed rent, they are entirely within their rights to vacate the property with only a 15 days notice period, with their security deposit completely refunded.
- Right To Privacy : Once the apartment unit is leased to the tenant, the owner has no authority to enter the apartment without the prior permission of the tenant. It shall be a breach of the right to privacy of the tenant and the tenant shall be within their rights to vacate the property immediately with complete security deposit. Surprise house checks also fall in the category of breaching the right to privacy. The owner must inform 24 hours before for any visits. Also the tenant has the right to refuse such visits if they are beyond the time frame of 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Essential Services : Under no circumstances, including non payment of dues, can the owner withhold the supply of water, power, car parking, sanitary services to the tenant.
- Tenant Eviction : In case the owner feels unable to continue the lease agreement, they must provide a minimum of one month notice to the tenants to vacate the premises. Similarly, a tenant can be asked to vacate the property if dues have not been paid for two consecutive months.
- Security Deposit : In accordance to the Model Tenancy Act, the owner can charge only Three Months’ Rent as a refundable security deposit. This deposit is to be refunded within a month of the property being vacated.
- Follow Society Bye-Laws : The tenant is duty bound to follow all the rules and regulations as stated in the bye-laws of their housing society of residence.
- Cooperation : The tenant must show a spirit of cooperation with their neighbours. They should not undertake any activities that shall cause unnecessary distress to their neighbours like loud parties, transaction of questionable activities, misbehaviour.
- Maintenance : Like any other resident, the tenant too is responsible to not cause any intentional damage to the common or private property. In case of an unintentional damage, they must own up the responsibility to fix it.
- Do Not Sublet : A tenant does not have the authority to sublet their apartment units in case of non occupancy.
- Communication : It is the foremost duty of a tenant to always maintain a clean line of communication with their owner to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Handover : Towards the approaching end of the agreement and in the event there’s no intention of renewal, the tenant must inform the owner 30 days before vacating the property. The tenant must physically handover the keys to the owner after an inspection of the property has been completed in the presence of both parties.
It is really quite simple to rent out your apartment. And tenancy can be a great way of ensuring your property becomes a regular income asset for you. On the upside, you also get to meet a variety of new people from all over the world. Follow the laws, know of verification processes, make the lessee aware of the rights and duties of tenants, keep a clear channel of communication and you shall find tenancy is a rather easy, peaceful and profitable investment to make.