Rent Controller cannot ask landlord to carry out repair: HC

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court | Photo Credit: File Photo

There is no provision in the Delhi Rent Control (DRC) Act under which the Rent Controllers, officers in charge of fixing standard rents of properties, can call upon a landlord to carry out repairs of the tenanted premises, the Delhi High Court has observed.

The dispute

The High Court made this observation on June 3 while adjudicating a dispute between a tenant and an owner of a shop in Sadar Bazar.

Justice C. Hari Shankar also clarified that the Rent Controller, appointed under the DRC Act, could permit the tenant to carry out repairs if, after receipt of notice from the tenant in this regard, the landlord fails to repair the premises.

The tenant had moved a local civil court seeking directions to his landlord to repair the roof of his shop which was affected by seepage.

The landlord, on the other hand, contested the plea claiming that under the DRC Act, such a plea was maintainable only before the Rent Controller.

On May 26, the civil court rejected the landlord’s plea, following which he moved the High Court.

The landlord argued that Section 50 of the DRC Act prohibits civil courts from entertaining suits or proceedings which relate to fixation of rent, eviction of a tenant or any other matter for which the Rent Controller is empowered under the DRC Act.

Judicial exceptions

Justice Shankar, however, said that Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) empowers the courts to try all civil suits except those in which they are expressly or impliedly barred.

The High Court said the exercise of power by the Rent Controller is envisaged in Section 44 of the DRC Act.

The specific conditions which are required to be satisfied before a tenant invokes the jurisdiction of the Rent Controller are — the premises should not be habitable or usable except by carrying out repairs, a notice in writing is issued by the tenant to the landlord to carry out such repairs and the landlord should neglect or fail to make the repairs despite receiving such a notice.

“It is only when these three eventualities, chronologically and cumulatively are satisfied that the tenant may approach the Controller,” the High Court said.

“Even then, the power of the Controller is to permit the tenant to carry out the repairs and submit to it [the Controller] an estimate of the cost of repairs which, after hearing the landlord, the Controller may call upon the landlord to disgorge,” the High Court added.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 1:24:33 am |