Landlord Best Judge Of His Residential  Requirements, Tenant Cannot Dictate  Terms: Bombay HC

Landlord Best Judge Of His Residential  Requirements, Tenant Cannot Dictate  Terms: Bombay HC

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai noted that if the landlord wishes to live with comfort in a house of his own, the law does not command or compel him to squeeze himself tightly into lesser premises protecting the tenant’s occupancy.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, December 14, 2023, 03:26 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File Image

The landlord is the best judge of his residential requirement and the tenant cannot dictate terms to him as to how he can and how he should adjust in the available premises, observed the Bombay High Court recently. 

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai noted that if the landlord wishes to live with comfort in a house of his own, the law does not command or compel him to squeeze himself tightly into lesser premises protecting the tenant’s occupancy. 

While upholding the eviction decree, Justice Anuja Prabhudessai observed that the landlords had shown a “reasonable and bonafide requirement” of the premises as they, a joint family of 11 members were currently occupying only 400 sq ft in area, in Gulalwadi in South Mumbai.

“The proven fact is that the need of the Plaintiffs (owners) for additional accommodation is genuine, honest and conceived in good faith and thus reasonable and bonafide,” Justice Prabhudessai said. “In such circumstances, challenge to the finding rendered by the courts below on the issue of bonafide and reasonable need of the premises cannot be countenanced for the simple reason that the landlord is the best judge of his residential requirement and the tenant cannot dictate terms to him as to how he can and how he should adjust in the available premises.”

A dispute arose over 319 sq ft premises in Gulalwadi. The owners of the premises – Chandrakant, Ketan, and Sanjiv Shah – issued a notice to Hasmukh Shah on May 17, 2004, thereby terminating the tenancy and asking him to vacate the premises. 

However, Ajay Shah replied to the notice claiming that he was in possession of the premises for residential cum commercial purposes. 

The owners then filed an eviction suit before the Small Causes Court, wherein they stated that the premises were sublet by Hasmukh to Ajay without their written consent. They also contended that 11 members of their joint family was residing in about 400 sq ft area and were facing space constraints. Hence, they claimed that there was of bonafide and reasonable requirement of the suit premises.

However, Ajay denied the claim of subletting contending that the premises were originally occupied by his father and uncle since 1954 for residence-cum-office use. He said that he was an Income-tax practitioner and was using the premises for residence-cum-office purposes. He also claimed that the owners had ample space. 

The Small Causes Court ruled in the owners’ favour which was upheld by the Appellate bench of the Small Causes Court. Ajay challenged this before the HC.

The court noted that Section 16(1)(g) of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999 allows eviction of a tenant based on the reasonable and bonafide requirement of the landlord. The court has granted Ajay three month’s time to vacate the premises. 

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