Amendments to Delhi Rent Control Act (1958) in 1997 (a piece of legislation violating the fundamental right of an individual to property rights) has once again been put back. Strong traders lobby (main beneficiaries of status quo) has successfully capitulated the Urban Development Ministry. The Ministry has decided to hold back the move of tabling it in the monsoon session of the Parliament.
The bill has been pending in Rajya Sabha for 8 years. Many owners are stuck with non-paying tenants due to this Act. Sad and heart rending stories of how tenants moved in on nominal rents and have become the owners of the properties abound. This bill had been passed earlier by both sessions of Parliament and the President had given his assent. Due to pressure from powerful tenant lobbies of Connaught Place, Chandini Chowk and South Extension, the bill was notified ... a formality for the passed bill to become law.
Common Cause, a NGO sought direction from the Delhi High Court to the Govt. for notification of the bill. A committee of Rajya Sabha, on the issue "Can the Executive delay the enforcement of enactment passed by Parliament and assented to by the President" considered it as setting a unhealthy precedent by the Govt. by deferring the enforcement.
Tenants of these areas pay Rs. 5 to 10 per month rental where as the prevalent rent in these districts are as high as Rs. 450/- per Sq. Ft. In most of the cases, tenants are now taking advantage of the bullishness in the reality market to illegally lease out the properties of which they hold lease. The genuine owner is not being given his due. The method employed is ingenious - using the franchise route.
Delhi Rent Control Act in its current form is the single reason why Delhi landlords prefer to give their places on rent to foreigners. Foreigners go back, Indians stay on and use the Act to exploit the owners. This is for properties where rents are lower than Rs. 3,500/- per month. Over Rs. 3,500/- the law is balanced but the sentiment of good owner-tenant relationship has been systematically destroyed over the past few decades by the use of this Act.
Generous donations to the political parties election funds by the tenant trader's lobby ensures that Government continues to deny its citizens the basic right to own and dispose of properties. Issues like this are of concern to the big time real estate investors as there is a lack of clarity. Govt. speaks differently, acts differently. Mind you, these traders are not so big in numbers, just well connected and very voluble.