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Necessary Elements of a Valid Eviction Notice

Landlords have a lot of legal remedies available under the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA), 1872. Some of which include: forfeiture, monetary damages, some self-help remedies or eviction. A landlord has the right to ask his tenant to vacate the place and the right to start the process of eviction against him.

Eviction is the process by which the landlords can eject the tenants from his property. The process begins with the landlord giving a notice to the tenant to settle the grievances or otherwise vacate his property. If the terms are not settled, court-proceedings on the eviction can start where both the parties put up their issues. At the end of the proceedings, if the landlord wins, the tenant has to evict the land and restore it back in the hands of the owner.

It has been decided in the case of Achintya Kumar Saha v. Nanee Printers (2004, 12 SCC 368) that:
“in view of the rent control laws and the concept of statutory tenancy evolved in the respect of urban building it is now generally necessary to determine tenancy by a notice to quit before claiming ejectment on grounds admissible under such laws.”

If the tenant is un-cooperative and does not want to settle the dispute peacefully and even not agrees to vacate the land, the landlord can issue an eviction notice. Not only a tenancy of temporary term but also of fixed term can be challenged and determined by the eviction notice.

The proper drafting and inclusion of all the important points in an Eviction notice is essential as there have been cases when the suits have been dismissed only because of the errors in the Eviction notice. The essential elements of the eviction notice are:
  1. The Notice

    The notice must be given in writing and should be signed by or on behalf of the landlord or the person giving it.

  2. Valid And Justified Reason

    The landlord cannot issue the notice of eviction just because he wants to but only if has a valid and legal reason. The reason to ask the tenant to get out from the place must be a justifiable reason and must not be derived from a mere demand of more possessions which was given in the judgement of the case Narayan v. Kunbhan Mannudiar. Some of the common grounds to begin the process of eviction include:
    1. Failure of the tenant to pay rent (not at agreed time or not all): If the tenant is even late by 15 days, the landlord has an opportunity to evict the tenant. Eviction notice can be issued if the tenant neither pays the rent nor vacates the rented property.

    2. Tenant causing damage to the property: The landlord can ask the tenant to evict the property, if he by any means causes any damage to the property of the landlord.

    3. Causing health or safety hazards on the property of the lessor: The tenant must take proper care while doing anything on the rented property and if does something that may cause harm to the health or safety of the landlord or his family, he can be asked to vacate the place.

    4. Violation of the terms of the rental or the lease agreement by the lessee: The tenant must abide by all the clauses agreed upon in the rental/ lease agreement while signing the contract and must not to anything against the same.

    5. Tenant uses the land for unlawful purposes: The tenant can be asked to leave the property if he uses it for some illegal purposes or purposes not mentioned in the agreement;

    6. If there is some urgent need of property by the owner: If the owner needs the property for his personal use or any of his family member needs it urgently, the eviction notice can be issued.

  3. When There Is One Co-Owner

    If the landlord is not the sole-owner and has a co-owner both of the co-owners can act as the landlord individually and a notice is issued by anyone of them will be valid and legal.
    It was decided in the case of Sri Ram Pasricha v. Jagannath, 1976, SCC 184 that, “a co-owner is as much an owner of the entire property as any sole owner of a property is” and hence one co-owner is the landlord and a notice issued by him or a suit filed by him is legally valid as well as sufficient.

  4. If There Are Number Of Lessors

    If there are many lessors who own the property, the notice must be issued by all of them and hence a notice moved by any one of the joint lessors will not be applicable. Though the signature of all the lessors must be present but a notice with the signature of any one of the joint lessors will be valid if the notice mentions the line, “we give you the notice” that implies the consent of all the others as well.

    This principle has been decided in the case of Madhusudan Prasad Agarwal v. Sushma Bala Dasi where the notice was signed by only one plaintiff (though they were 2 owners). This act of signing by only one was criticised by the opponent lawyer, but the court considered the notice valid and continued the proceedings. The notice was accepted as all the appeals implied consensus of both the plaintiffs as the word ‘WE' was used to put the statements and hence there might be some reason that the other plaintiff may not have able to sign.

    A notice to terminate the tenancy of a trust deed must also be on behalf of all the lessors and may be given by one. The notice by only one of the joint lessors is not sufficient. According to the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 a trustee is not the sole owner and cannot take decisions on behalf of the other trustees where they are equally affected by the act. Hence in any law suit, the final decision must be taken by all the trustees concurrently and then acted upon. And the similar principle is applied while issuing an eviction notice where it must be issued after the consent of all the trustees.

  5. Terms Of The Notice

    The landlord has no right to forcefully evict the tenant. He cannot even call the police to directly throw him out. Taking the help of wrongful methods like cutting the water supply or electricity connection, throwing his belongings out or taking penalizing measures on his own to evacuate the place can make the landlord liable in the court of law.

    The landlord must give the eviction notice which provides sufficient time limit to the tenant to either vacate the place or make the payments (whatever the case may be). The time given must be in accordance with the terms mentioned already in the rental agreement and if they were not specifically mentioned then in the eviction notice, then sufficient time should be given after which the tenant can be summoned in the court according to the state enacted acts.

    According to the Section 106 of Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the time a lease of immovable property that is renewed year from year is terminable after six months notice and a lease that is renewed month after month is terminable after a fifteen days' notice.

    The time given by the landlord to the tenant to vacate the house may vary from one to three months depending on the reason, relations and the time period for which the tenant had been staying/using the property. It may extend to six months time in rarest of cases. At least 21 days are given before ending the tenancy and sometimes 15 days if rent is not paid since a long time.

  6. Communication Of Notice

    If there are more than one tenant, the notice must refer and be delivered to all of them. The notice can either be handled personally to the tenant or via a servant may hand it over. There is also a provision of sending the notice via post where the communication will be accepted as per Indian Contracts Act, 1872.

    The notice can be given by the landlord himself taking care of including all the important points in it according to the Rental Agreement and Tenancy Act of the state or he may request a lawyer to draft the same sand summon it to the tenant.

  7. Accept Or Reject

    The tenant has an option to clear the issue with his landlord in a friendly manner. If not, the owner can give him a notice to evict the place and still it depends on the tenant that whether he wants to comply with the terms of the eviction notice or not. If the notice is sent by post, and no response is received it may be presumed as unwillingness on the part of the tenant to accept the terms of the owner by the tenant.

    If the tenant accepts the eviction notice, he will evacuate the place within the given time and if he still does not vacate the place the eviction process may be carried forward.

Eviction Process

The tenant if not complies with the eviction notice the eviction process further can be carried out against him. It has been held in the case of Munisami Naidu v. C. Ranganathan, AIR 1991 SC 492 the Board was entitled to institute proceedings against the tenant as the notice period had expired. Similar was the case in Vasant Kumar Radhakishan Vora v. The Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay, AIR 1991 SC 14 where the plaintiff sued the defended for not conforming to the Eviction notice.

After the filing of the suit in the Court, the proceedings start which may take some more time than expected to reach to a conclusion. After the proceedings, the court decides on the bases of the facts and appeals of both the parties about the further eviction. If the plaintiff (the landowner) wins the court orders the tenant to evict the place within a reasonable specified time and still if he does not the help of police can be sought to get rid of the tenant.

Rights Of The Tenant

There have been cases where eviction notice has been moved against the tenants without any appropriate reason. Landlord have filed false charges of not paying the rent on the tenants and then then tried to throw them out of the rented property. In such false cases, the tenants always have a right to justify themselves and stand against the eviction. The tenant can seek the help from the Rent Controllers in the region based on the Rent Controller Act, 1948.

The tenant during the court proceedings can show the bills of the money paid or cash deposited. In case of cash given in the hand of the landlord the evidence to prove may be a bit difficult and hence the mode of depositing of the rent must be fixed prior in the rental agreement.

The tenant also has an option to file a petition against the landlord if he uses illegal method to evict the tenant (even if the tenant is wrong) as the landlord can never adopt self-reliant methods to eject the tenant.

Renting an apartment, house or property is a common practice in our society and is beneficial simultaneously for both the owner and the tenant. But there are also cases where the landlord gets tired of the tenant as he does not pay the rent or sorts to some unlawful or hazardous activities at the owner's place and hence the owner may ask the tenant to leave his place and restore his property back to him.

The dispute can usually be settled peacefully but if not, the landlord has to opt for the eviction process to get rid of such a tenant. And to initiate this process it is imperative to issue a valid eviction notice which have all the essential elements which if not complied will further act as an evidence in the court proceedings.

List Of References:
  • Achintya Kumar Saha v. Nanee Printers (2004, 12 SCC 368)
  • Sri Ram Pasricha v. Jagannath, 1976, SCC 184
  • Munisami Naidu v. C. Ranganathan, AIR 1991 SC 492
  • Vasant Kumar Radhakishan Vora v. The Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay, AIR 1991 SC 14
  • Transfer of Property Act

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