Non-resident Indians owning properties in India see it as a way to earn passive income. And it is, no doubt, a great way to make money on the side.
But, in many situations, renting out properties in India has become an issue for NRIs.
These conflicts and disputes can arise for many reasons. And NRI landlords have the right to evict their tenants in India, given the reason is justifiable.
Justifiable Reasons for Eviction
NRI landlords can only cite justifiable reasons for the eviction of tenants.
Reasons that are considered justifiable for eviction include:
- When the tenant in India has not paid rent for more than 15 days past the scheduled payment date without any valid reason.
- When the property has been sublet by the tenant without prior notice to or written consent of the NRI landlord.
- When the tenant is using the property for illegal or unethical purposes, or for purposes not mentioned in the rental agreement.
- When the landlord has received bona fide complaints from neighbors about the tenants’ undesirable actions/ways of living.
- When the activities of the tenants have caused damage to the property that has resulted in a decrease in value or usability of the property.
- When the tenants have rebutted the NRI landlord’s ownership of the property.
- When the NRI landlord needs the property for personal or commercial reasons—for example, if the landlord returns to India or needs the property for relatives’ use.
- When remodeling/maintenance needs to be done to the property that is not possible without eviction.
- When the landlord wants to get the property demolished for new construction. Such construction can be by self or by a third party.
- When the tenant has not occupied the premises for a long time without notice.
While these basic reasons apply to properties across India, the tenancy rules may differ from state to state. It is wise to understand the state-specific rules before proceeding with the eviction of the tenants.
In Punjab, for example, NRI rental property management is in favor of the NRI landlords. The East Punjab Urban Land Restriction Act 1949, under Section 13-B, offers the option of immediate eviction. This option is available in case the NRI landlord wants to return to India and use the property.
However, NRI landlords can only use this right once in their lifetime and for one property only. While this limitation exists in Punjab and Chandigarh, you will need to check the Act applicable for your property to verify if the limitation is valid for you.
Process for Evicting Tenants in India
NRI landlords can follow this simple process for evicting tenants in India:
Step 1: Sending an eviction notice.
The NRI landlord, usually with the help of a lawyer, needs to first draft a notice of eviction for the tenant in India. The notice should mention the date and time by which the tenant must vacate the property. It is also essential that the notice be sent through a court. Send the notice to the court within the proper jurisdiction, and the court will then send the notice to the tenant.
In most cases, the tenant is likely to vacate the property upon receiving the notice from the court.
If the tenant contests the notice and does not vacate the property by the said date and time, you can go on to file an eviction suit in India.
Step 2: Filing an eviction suit.
The NRI landlord has the option to file a civil case against a non-complying tenant in a court with appropriate jurisdiction.
Once the suit has been filed, the court will listen to the pleas of both parties and issue orders accordingly.
In the case of unruly tenants, complaints can first be filed with the relevant Resident Welfare Associations or the police station.
Important Points to Consider Regarding Tenant Eviction
Some important points to be considered by NRI landlords include:
- Landlords cannot ask tenants to vacate the property within the first five years of the rental agreement if the rent has been duly paid and there is an absence of strong, justifiable reasons for eviction.
- Drafting a rental agreement is a wise option. Only then can NRI landlords completely exercise their landlord rights in India.
- NRI landlords should not resort to unethical and wrong eviction techniques. Refrain from cutting basic supplies, changing locks, damaging the personal property of tenants, or using muscle power. This is likely to result in the tenant filing a criminal case against the NRI landlord.
- If things go south, seek legal help for amicable and easy resolution of disputes.
1. Do NRI landlords have to prove their ownership of the property before being able to evict a tenant?
No. In a 2014 case, the Supreme Court made it very clear that NRI landlords do not need to prove their ownership over the property to evict a tenant. The court opined that if resident Indian landlords are not subjected to proving their ownership, NRI landlords shouldn’t be asked for that either.
This is also in line with Section 116 of the Evidence Act that a tenant cannot dispute the title of the landlords.
However, NRI landlords get the right to have their tenants evicted only after having owned the rented property for five years. Also, this right is available only once in a lifetime. But the Supreme Court, in its judgment, mentioned that when the tenant clearly accepts a tenant-landlord relationship in their appeal, proving ownership is not necessary.
For NRI landlords, it means that if they need the rented property (for personal use or use by close kin), they can get the tenant evicted even if it hasn’t been 5 years since they own the property.
2. Can NRI landlords evict tenants without a rental/tenancy agreement?
There are several NRI landlords who do not have a written tenancy agreement with their tenants. However, you can still get your tenant evicted if need be.
Section 105 of the Transfer of Property Act states that lease agreements can be both written and oral. This means that in the absence of a written document you can state that the agreement was oral.
Section 107 of the act also reinstates the previous point and does not differentiate between a written or oral agreement of tenancy.
Another point that can be made in cases where there is no written tenancy agreement is by showing the proof of receipts of rent. If the tenant had been paying rent to the NRI landlord, those receipts act has sufficient proof to prove the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship, and the NRI landlord’s right to getting the tenant evicted for valid reasons.
Furthermore, if you are not able to prove that the tenancy agreement was oral, it would mean that the party identified as your tenant is not legally allowed to live on your property. This gives you the right to get the party removed from your property because if they aren’t your tenant (without a tenancy agreement), they are illegal trespassers. By filing a police case against the illegal occupants you can have them removed from your property.
3. Does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the NRI landlord’s right to evict tenants?
On March 26, 2020, The COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act came into being. The act imposed restrictions on terminating a tenancy for a period of six months (March 26, 2020, to September 25, 2020).
However, no directives have been issued after that, which means NRI landlords can evict tenants who are not able to pay rent on time, or on the basis of other valid reasons.
Also, the draft model tenancy law approved by the parliament of India in June, 2021 has provisions that state that landlords can initiate an eviction process against tenants who have failed to pay rent for two months in a row. This means that if a tenant has not paid rent for more than two months, an eviction suit can be filed.
While it is legally allowed, it isn’t humanitarian. If mediation is possible, landlords should consider it. NRI landlords can also go for a substituting contract, called a novation of contract, that gives the tenants more time to clear their due. NRI landlords should remember that mediation and novation should be done when the tenant is trustworthy.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?