We have been a tenant of a shop for more than 60 years. Ever since, we have been paying the collective rent amount every 1 years. The owner stays in a different place, so we send the amount by money order. This is the way it has always been going on. However, this time it has been 30 months since we paid the last rent amount. Neither did the owner ask or remind us, nor did we send it by ourselves. Finally, a couple months ago, we sent the money order for the total amount due, but he refused and returned it. He says that he wants us to suddenly pay more than ten times of the current rent rate. This is not possible for us financially. Besides, can the owner do this legally? It looks like he either wants us to pay almost 10 times the current rent rate, or vacate the shop. We are three individuals with three shops (one each) and the same case applies to all three of us. As for my shop, pfb the rent per month as set by the owner and agreed by me: 1953 - Rs.30 1988 - Rs.85 1968 - Rs.155 2008 - rs.500 (last paid upto 2010) I believe that the other two shops have (/ had) a similar rent structure as well.
Rate of rent is a matter of contract and can be varied in accordance with agreement only and not unilaterally. The Rent Control Legislations enacted in the pre-independence and immediately after independence era to prevent exploitation of tenants provided a statutory mechanism enabling a tenant to, notwithstanding having entered the premises with a promise to pay rent at a certain rate, apply to the Rent Controller/Court for fixation of standard rent which as aforesaid was generally lower than the prevalent market rent. However, with the passage of time, several Courts have found such provisions in the State Rent Legislations entitling tenants to wriggle out of the agreed rent to be archaic and struck down the same. Else the rent agreed between the landlord and the tenant binds both of them and neither is entitled to unilaterally vary the same during the period for which it has been agreed. On the expiry of the said period, if unable to agree on extension / renewal of the lease at a mutually agreed rate, the remedy of the landlord is only to evict a tenant and to for the period of unauthorized occupation recover mesne profits defined in Section 2(12) of the CPC as profits which the person in wrongful possession actually received or might with ordinary diligence have received. A landlord cannot be heard to while not wanting to evict the tenant, as per his own calculation claim increased rent. However, if the premises are within the purview of the Rent Act which prohibits the landlord from evicting the tenant for the reason of expiry of the term for which the premises were let out, the landlord cannot while being so prohibited be permitted to claim mesne profits or increase in rent unless permitted under the Rent Act. Thus, in the absence of a provision in the statute it cannot be held that a landlord is entitled to market rent from a protected tenant.
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