By M.S. Khan, Advocate, (Ex.Competent Authority, Rent Act, Konkan Division, Mumbai).
Accommodation Times News Services
At last, the new unified Maharashtra Rent Control Bill has been passed by the Maharashtra Legislature. It is learnt that the bill is sent for the assent of the President. After the signature of the President of India, it will become and Act and will come into force on such date as may be notified by the Government in the Gazette.
Under Section 55, all tenancy agreements, including leave and licence agreements, must be in writing and are to be compulsorily registered after the commencement of the Act. It will be the responsibility of the landlord to get such written agreements registered. If he fails to get the agreements registered, the contention of the tenant about its terms and condition shall prevail, unless proved otherwise. Further, if the landlord fails to register the agreement, he shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three months or with fine upto five thousand rupees or with both, under Sub-Section (3) of the said Section 55.
The Joint Committee on the Bill, in its Report dt. 20th April 1999, has also observed that the Committee has unanimously decided to protect all the existing tenancy before the date of commencement of this Act, but after the commencement of this Act, there should be no tenancy without agreement. Every such tenancy agreement has to be registered and the responsibility of getting such agreements registered should be on the landlord. If the tenancy is created without registered agreement, there will be no protection of law and the landlord contravening these provision on conviction be punished with imprisonment as laid down in Section 55 (3) of the Act.
This appears to be a major departure from the previous provisions relating to the agreements of tenancy and the leave and licence agreements. The prosecution and punishment for non-registration of agreements by the landlords appear to be very harsh. No landlord would be pleased to give his hard earned flat to the tenant/licensee and would like to go to jail for non-registration of the agreement. He will rather be happy to keep the premises vacant instead of giving it either on rent or on leave and licence basis. This will cause acute shortage of the stock of houses available. There is every possibility that if the landlord has given the premises without registration of agreement, he will try to use force to get back the possession. The litigation in the Court may be minimised, but lawlessness is likely to be increased which is not healthy a sign between the relationship of landlords and tenants. Another difficulty in registration of such agreement would be that so many leave and licence agreements are executed each day. The office of the Sub-Registrar is already over burdened. The office takes sufficient long time for the return of registered documents, and these agreements registration will be then additional burden. No machinery is provided in the act for registration of such agreement with penalty may adversely effect their relations. I think, other States have not made such provision in their respective Rent Act legislations for the compulsory registration of tenancy agreement with penalty. If any other state has enacted such provisions, it would be useful to examine its result and consequences in relation between the landlord and the tenant.