Landlord tenant disputes and management of NRI property in India

Non-Resident Indians (NRI) residing outside India face a lot of problem from their tenants who refuse to vacate the premises even after repeated requests. Even though the provisions of law are in their favour and the judges are also inclined to give relief to the landlords because of the intense harassment they face from tenants, it takes time to take the litigation to an end. That is the only thing which tenants have in their favour – that they can buy time.

In Punjab, the relevant act is East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act 1949. The Transfer of property Act, 1882 is not applicable in Punjab. Similarly, each state in India has separate statute to resolve landlord tenant disputes.

An ejectment petition is filed by Non-Resident Indians (NRI) generally on the ground that there to visit India and they need their own premises to reside. It has to be mentioned in the petition whether the rent is being paid regularly are not. It is also be mentioned how the premises is required by the landlord for his personal use and occupation. In case there is alternate property with the landlord, it has to be shown that the property in question is the best property which is suited to the needs of the landlord. It must further depleted by the landlord, directly or indirectly, that the landlord owns the property in question for the last five years.

In reply to such petitions, the tenants generally take preliminary objections like non-maintainability of the petition, estoppel and mala fide intention et cetera. Another objection is if the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) have their own residential house or commercial buildings (depending on the case) which can be used for personal use instead of the demised premises.

The provisions of law remains that the legislature did not want to delay the possession of residential and non-residential buildings required by Non-Resident Indians (NRI) for their own personal use or the use of those were dependent on Non-Resident Indians (NRI). However it is also taking care of that the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) does not misuse the provision and it is specifically mention that in case the tenant has been evicted, the same property shall not be let out for a period of five years from the date the landlord gets possession. Further the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) cannot transfer the same property and sell it to any person within a period of five years. In such a case, the tenant who has been evicted can apply to the rent controller that his possession should be restored.

In such cases it is sufficient to prove that the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) have come to India on temporary basis. They may not reside here permanently and can still use the beneficial provisions of law to win their cases in India. There is no requirement under law that the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) should return in India permanently before filing the ejectment petition and then remain on rent in somebody else’s property before ejectment order of their own properties passed and then the property belonging to Non-Resident Indians (NRI) is got vacated. The only thing which is to be shown is that the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) have come to India with an intention to settle in India even though it may be temporary.

It may be noted that the rental related litigation is extremely complex and extremely technical and small technical points are used by tenants to remain in possession of the property. In such cases, it is of utmost importance that litigation is pursued only by experts in Non-Resident Indians (NRI) litigation. Further it should always be an endeavour that such legal issue between landlord and tenant is prevented rather than cured. The best way to do so is to ensure that the tenant the agreements are sound and foolproof and that the NRI property is managed by property management experts who handle property management issues of NRIs exclusively. In such cases, tenants must be registered as per law with the police authorities, tenancy deeds should be duly registered and it should be ensured that the tenants deposit rent in time.