Tenancy Act: Chandigarh admn sets ball rolling for rent authority

Turning down the suggestion of lawyers and tenant associations to keep tenancy related cases under the purview of judiciary instead of forming a rent authority, the Chandigarh administration has sent the draft Tenancy Act 2020 to the Centre.

Confirming the development, Uma Shankar Gupta, additional secretary, estates, said: “After compiling the list of suggestions received and administration’s comments thereon, we have sent the draft of the Chandigarh Tenancy Act 2020 to the Centre for its approval.”

The Act proposes to establish a framework for the regulation of tenancy matters (residential and commercial) and to balance the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, including fast adjudication process for resolution of disputes.

The key provision of the proposed Act is setting up of a rent authority, which will have exclusive jurisdiction over tenancy issues. All rent agreements will have to be submitted to this authority. The landowner and the tenant will have to separately file the particulars within a month of signing the agreement. Currently, these can be registered at the sub-registrar’s office.

Power of adjudication key to the Act

The authority will adjudicate all disputes between a landlord and tenant. Currently, rent-related disputes are resolved by civil courts, where the pendency rate is high. Appeals against authority’s orders will be made in the rent court, headed by a senior judicial officer, and the case will have to be disposed of within 60 days. Against a rent court order, an appeal can be filed with the rent tribunal.

“There was a suggestion from the lawyers’ body, objecting to the creation of the rent authority having exclusive adjudication powers over tenancy disputes and issues. The body suggested that the tenancy issues should be kept under the purview of civil courts only,” said Gupta.

Commenting on the suggestion of lawyers, the administration has responded that the rent authority’s adjudication powers are necessitated as it would speed up the resolution of tenancy related disputes, and it is central to the creation of the new Tenancy Act. “All disputes between tenants and landlords will be decided in a timebound manner — within three months — by the Rent Authority. Here, simplified procedure will also ensure speedy relief to people,” it was stated.

The Commercial Tenants’ Association in its objections to the draft Act had stated that the creation of a rent authority and rent court to be presided over by an executive officer was totally in contravention of the already existing procedure and adjudication of litigation.

The proposed Act stipulates: “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, in the areas to which this Act extends, only the rent court and no civil court shall have jurisdiction, to hear and decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant.”

Making Act retrospective among 31 suggestions

The proposed Act is only prospective in nature and will cover tenancy agreements that have taken place after it implementation.

The draft Act states: “No person shall, after the commencement of this Act, let or take on rent any premises except by an agreement in writing.”

The administration received 31 suggestions and objections to the draft Act.

One suggestion was about making the Act retrospective. The administration has left it to the Centre to take a call on this.

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