Enforcement of house rent law
REPORTEDLY, there has been on the average a 15 percent increase in house rent over the last ten years or so. And the matter of house rent, particularly in the metropolitan areas, is an irritating issue that sometimes leaves the two parties, the landlord and the tenant, in a very abrasive relationship.
There is a tendency on the part of the landlords to arbitrarily increase the rent of the premises while one sees unwillingness on the part of the tenant to fulfill his or her part of the agreement. And we feel that it is just as well that the government has been asked by the High Court as to why it should not be directed to enforce the Premises Rent Control Act, 1991, properly. Indeed there is a need for the authorities to see that the relevant laws in this regard are fully implemented with equity, and that no one party can ride roughshod over another, either by bending the rules or disregarding them.
The apex court's ruling is a clear indication that the matter had not been adequately addressed by the government; one feels that the administration should have taken suo moto cognizance of the issue long ago, it being not only a matter of enforcing a particular law but also one that is concerned with consumer interests, without being prompted by the judiciary.
It is true that while the rise in prices of commodities has been considerably higher, the income of the tenants in general has not been in keeping with the rise in either commodity prices or house rent. And while no one should be allowed to arbitrarily increase or fix the rent of a property, there is perhaps ground to reconsider the mode of fixing the rent, which should take into account not only the laid down method of rent calculation, which according to the act is a certain percentage of market value of the premises assessed in that area, but also consider the price of construction materials, which has the tendency sometimes to increase many times more than that of other consumer goods or private income.
The act in question is a fairly comprehensive law, and not only is there a strong case for implementing it, we also feel, to start with, the government should appoint rent controllers, whose existence, if at all, is not known by many of us, but which is provided for in the Act of 1991. This, we are certain, will not only offer the parties an avenue of seeking arbitration without going to court, but will also take much less time to resolve a dispute.