Legal experts believe that the house owners don’t have the authority to forcibly vacate the tenants for non-payment of dues and even if they did coerce a tenant, he/she could approach the police station for help.
“If a tenant fails to pay the rent on time or to vacate the premises after the lease expired, rental courts
and tribunals must look into the issue. House owners have no authority to coerce a tenant to vacate the house. If they did force them by barging into the tenant house, it amounts to criminal intimidation and they can dial 100 for help,” said Senior advocate PB Ramanujam, an expert in rent control cases in the city.
As of now, disputes between landlords and tenants are being adjudicated by rent authority, rent courts and rent tribunals under the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Rights and Responsibilities of Landlord and Tenants Act. As per the provisions of this law, all tenancy agreements should be written agreements and shall be compulsorily registered with the rent authority.
When asked about the tenants who have no agreement with landlords, Ramanujam said, “Majority of the landlords are not providing receipts or agreement to their tenants but that doesn’t entitle them to coerce a tenant to vacate the premises.”
Some tenants were informed by the respective house owners that if they don’t pay the rent, the amount would be deducted from their advance. “My house owner wants me to pay the rent along with ‘water bill’ even though I left the city due to lockdown. I reasoned with her and told her that I wouldn’t pay the water bill.
But she was stubborn and I had no choice,” said Ashok Kumar, an IT Professional. But some landlords understood the seriousness of the pandemic and informed the tenants that they don’t have to pay the rent for April and May months. “Two days before the lockdown, I went to my hometown. On April first week, my house owner informed me not to pay the rent for two months due to coronavirus outbreak,” said E Harinath, a resident of Anna Nagar.
According to reports, a family of four were left homeless in Karur district after they were forced out by the landlord for non-payment of dues. It was only after the intervention of police and Tahsildar; the landlord allowed the family to get back to the house. Advocate Ramanujam noted that tenants should immediately call for help if they are being forced out.