Economy

Landlord's genuine need aces tenant's hardship: Apex court

S. Murlidharan New Delhi | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on January 13, 2012


The tenant cannot be allowed to scuttle a landlord's attempts at repossession of property by claiming that hardships caused to him in the event of eviction are harsher what might be caused to the landlord from non-possession, the Supreme Court ruled.

When under the tenancy law, a landlord asks the tenant to vacate the property on the ground that he requires it genuinely for use by him and/or his family, the rent control authorities should not go into the merits of ‘comparative hardship', the Court said.

In an order dated January 5, 2012 that is likely to cheer the landlords, the Court at the same time did not strike down the comparative hardship theory.

It has only chosen to quietly read it down to ensure that it does not become an alibi for staying put despite a case having been made out by the landlord as to his genuine reasons for resumption of possession.

In the instant case, the tenant refused to vacate on the ground that he had established his thriving photography business in that premises and that he would lose his goodwill if he were to shift elsewhere whereas the landlord could always buy another property to settle his unemployed sons in business, the genuine reason made out by him, given his relative affluence.

The Supreme Court rejected this argument and said the rent control authorities cannot be compelled to make a roving and all-encompassing enquiry about the relative riches and circumstances of the two sides once the genuine need for resuming possession of the property is established by its owner.

The Apex court struck down the High Court order to the extent it asked the landlord to give one out of the four rooms to the tenant so that he could continue his business from there.

Sympathetic considerations cannot outweigh the right to privacy of the landlord and his family once he has established his genuine needs for eviction of the tenant.

(The author is a New Delhi-based chartered accountant)

Published on January 13, 2012
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