Property

How to Legally Evict a Tenant: A Step by Step Guide

In this article, we take a look at the rights of a landlord when it comes to evicting a tenant.

Introduction

Tenants can sometimes get troublesome in many ways. They may be loud. They may be maintaining the property shabbily or, even worse, causing damage. But in between the landlord and the Tenant is the contractually binding rent agreement. And unless there is a detailed clause in the agreement regarding eviction, which is almost always not the case, then the evict a Tenant can refuse to evacuate the property against the landlord’s wishes until the rent agreement expires. There are two kinds of rental agreements: residential contracts and commercial agreements. Let us look at how the eviction process can be handled cleanly and legally in each case.

Eviction in Case of the Commercially Leased Property

If the premises have been rented for commercial purposes, then the landlord can evict the Tenant only under the following conditions:

(i) The landlord has to show that the Tenant has an alternative place to do business

This doesn’t mean that the landlord has to find the Tenant another place. They have to prove that there are other places of business with similar capacity where the business can operate.

(ii) If he is not abiding by the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.

This is the easiest way to evict a tenant. The Contract Act specifically gives powers to the aggrieved party to dissolve a contract if the other party has explicitly breached any of the terms of the contract. So the landlord needs to ensure that their expectations from the Tenant are reflected in the agreement.

(iii) If he is using the property for some unlawful/ illegal purposes.

This, again, doesn’t require too much procedure. If the business is carrying on any unlawful or illegal business on the property, the landlord must inform the police. Besides, the Contracts Act states that any agreement signed with a person involved in illegal activities is void ab initio.

(iv) If he is causing any damage to the property.

Even if the agreement doesn’t state it explicitly, causing damage to the property is grounds for eviction immediately because damaging leased property amounts to vandalism which is an illegal act, especially if the damage was intentional or unavoidable.

(v) The most solid reason a landlord can give to evict a tenant from the property is to claim that the landlord himself is in need of the premises. To prove this, the landlord needs to show that

(a) The landlord is using a rented property for commercial purposes.

(b) And the said premises are convenient and cost-effective for him.

Eviction in Case of the Residentially Leased Property

(i) The owner himself is using another rented premises

As mentioned in the last point in the earlier section, there can be no better grounds for a landlord to evict a tenant other than the simple fact that they intend to now occupy and reside in that property. But it is effective only if the landlord himself has been living in a rented property while leasing his owned property to someone else.

(ii) The subsequent property purchaser wants to evict the tenants. A landlord is allowed to sell their property whenever they want, whether a tenant occupies it or not. So if the landlord who had leased the property has decided to sell the property and the new owner wishes to evict the tenants, then the tenants have no choice but to vacate the property.

(iii) If the Tenant is using the property for any unlawful or illegal purposes, this is one of those implicit clauses in the agreement. Any illegal activity on the premises warrants an immediate evacuation, and the landlord can even take police action in the matter.

(iv) Or the Tenant has caused some damage to the property.

This is also one of those implicit understandings that the Tenant returns the rented property in the same manner it was leased in the first place. Any damage to the property, intentional or not, gives the landlord the right to ask the Tenant to vacate without notice.

Handling Legal Issues During Eviction

India’s laws are pro-tenant, and evict the Tenant usually takes a long time. So when facing legal difficulties in evicting a tenant, the following steps can be taken.

(i) The first step can be sending a legal notice to the Tenant notifying them of the reasons for demanding the evacuation along with a deadline. The point of the legal notice is not only to give notice to the Tenant but also to put on record that due notice was served so that if the matter goes to court, there can’t be any claims from the Tenant that there was no sufficient notice.

(ii) If the premises are used for unlawful or illegal purposes, the landlord may file a criminal complaint directly.

(iii) The legal notice should also include details such as how did you meet the Tenant, for example, through an advertisement the Tenant saw contacted the landlord, or they were an acquaintance of yours when did you enter into the rental agreement, what is the reason on which you want to evict the Tenant, around what time did these reasons start, have you sent him a written notice earlier, if so when and why, you provide the time period for him to evict the property, what steps will be taken if he does not vacate the property.

(iv) If the Tenant does not do so, you may initiate a rent control original petition, also known commonly as RCOP, in the proper Small Causes Court in proper jurisdiction against the Tenant. This is where the eviction proceedings will be held. All evidence, including the legal notice and rental agreement, must be presented to evict a tenant. If there is no Rental Agreement, the process may become lengthy, and the case may have to rely on eyewitnesses etc.

(v) Apart from the Rental Agreement, there are some other documents that you might need, i.e., documents of the property such as khata, sale deed showing that you are the owner of the property or the parent deed in which you may be shown as the legal owner of the property, etc.

(vi) Once the RCOP is filed, then the court shall carry on the proceedings as in a civil suit.

(vii) The Court shall, after hearing both parties may, pass an order of eviction.

(viii) Once the Order of Eviction is passed, the Tenant shall vacate the property.

(ix) Even after the Eviction order is passed or he is unsatisfied with the previous order. They may file an appeal as Rent Control Appeal, and the further appeal stage shall be the Civil Revision Petition.

(x) The landlord may file an execution petition if the Tenant does not budge from the property even after the court has passed the original petition or the appeal order. Such a petition may result in either police interference or eviction of the Tenant by a revenue official.

Conclusion

Since the IT boom began in India, the number of people relocating for their professions has increased. And these relocations are rarely permanent. So most people prefer to stay on rent. By the simple laws of proportionality, disputes between landlords and tenants have increased. Tenants tend not to care for the rented accommodations too much because they are aware of the impermanence of their stay. This is why rental disputes take a long time to settle. This is why it is very important to put thought into and make sure that your expectations as a house owner are reflected in the rent agreement. If you are looking to draft a rent agreement, do get in touch with us, and our team of lawyers will get in touch with you to understand your needs and guide you in drafting an airtight rental agreement that can help avoid such issues.

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