According to the Draft Housing Policy, the freezing of rents under the Rent Act is “one of the key factors leading to dilapidation of old and cessed buildings.” The Policy indicates that this amendment is made with a view to incentivize landlords “to maintain and preserve buildings”.
This stated object does not stand up to scrutiny.
In fact, it is buildings with smaller premises and non-cessed buildings that are dilapidated and collapsing due to non-maintenance and neglect. Buildings with larger premises, which the amendment targets, are generally structurally sound & not dilapidated under the present repairs framework.
Structural repairs of cessed buildings are the responsibility of the Repair Board under MHADA, for which all tenants of cessed buildings pay a Repair Cess (collected along with Property Tax by the Municipal Corporation). Landlords are relieved of the responsibility of structural repairs of these buildings.
Instead of addressing the serious issue of dilapidation of non-cessed buildings and buildings with smaller premises (both of which the policy is silent on), the amendment instead gifts landlords property worth lakhs of crores under guise of providing for maintenance and repairs.