Mumbai: At the time when the city is plagued with numerous building collapse incidents, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday said that a landlord and also the tenants of a building are under obligation to carry out a structural audit of their structures.
The HC said that the landlord and the tenants must conduct a structural audit after their building completes 30 years and then every 10 years.
A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel further ruled that the rights of the tenants and the landlord remain as it is even if the building collapses or is demolished by the city civic body owing to it being a ‘dangerous’ structure.
The bench further said that the tenants should thus not approach courts to challenge eviction notices served by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The bench was dealing with a petition filed by residents of a Juhu-based housing society, challenging the eviction and demolition notice served by the BMC. The civic body claimed that the structure was listed as a dangerous one and that it required to be demolished at the earliest.
The residents, however, maintained that the BMC officers in connivance with the landlord, wanted to give the building to a private developer to gain profits.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “It is the owner or the occupier who is obliged to obtain the structure stability certificate, which shall be submitted within one year from the expiry of a period of 30 years, and every 10 years thereafter.”
“We do not think that this can an obligation on the BMC to necessarily carry out the structural audit and to issue a structural stability certificate. It is the obligation of the owner or the occupier, for they reside in the structure and it is for their safety and for protecting their interests that the legislature stepped in,” Justice Dharmadhikari said in his judgment.
The bench further said that if the owner has neglected the building and has not maintained it at all then the occupiers have an opportunity to approach a Structural Engineer and to get their building inspected and a certificate after this, be forwarded to the BMC chief.
In a separate but concurring ruling, Justice Patel junked the argument of the tenants that if they vacate the building, as per the BMC notice, then their tenancy rights would be taken away.
Trashing this argument, Justice Patel said, “The tenancies are unaffected whether the building collapses or is brought down by manual human intervention: the tenancies continue.
The suggestion, therefore, that the tenancy will be lost if the building is demolished (but will somehow be preserved if the building collapses on its own) is without any legal basis at all.”