By Makarand Gadgil, Mumbai Mirror | Updated: May 29, 2017, 12.42 PM IST

BJP-led govt bows to pressure from elected representatives, not to implement rule that appeared to favour landlords and dealt a raw deal to those staying in `cessed’ buildings

In a major relief for tenants, the state government has decided not to implement a much-debated rule that would have allowed landlords of “cessed” buildings to hike rent by 25 per cent if they carried out repairs.

The BJP-led state government is believed to have done a U-turn on the issue under immense pressure from elected representatives, including those from the ruling party.
“We are not going ahead with this rule.The interests of tenants will be protected and no rule which goes against their interest will be implemented by the state government,” said state housing minister Prakash Mehta.
In March this year, the state government published a set of draft rules under the Maharashtra Rent Control Act 1999 and sought suggestions and objections from the public by April 30. One of the proposed regulations was a 25 per cent hike in rent for those staying in “cessed” buildings provided the landlords carried out repair works.

“Cessed” buildings are the ones where repairs are carried out by the MHADA, which, in turn, collects cess from the tenants. Most of these structures are old, dilapidated and protected by the Rent Control Act -a major reason why owners have lost interest in maintaining them.

But the proposal was slammed by one and all, with many dubbing it as “landlord-friendly”.

The tenants feared that landlords would carry out superficial repairs so that they could get the rent increased. It was also opposed by housing rights activists, who argued that the rule would make housing unaffordable for many.

According to officials from the housing department, their main objective was to bring more accountability for landlords, who do not carry out maintenance, citing meagre rents. “If this new had come into existence, the landlords would not have been able to escape their responsibility by giving the excuse of low rent,” an official said.

There are around 16,000 cessed buildings in Mumbai with around 10 lakh tenants.

Welcoming the government’s decision, BJP legislator and president of Mumbai Tenant Unity Association Raj K. Purohit said, “This move would have ended the role of MHADA in maintaining the buildings. Besides, it would have also put an end to the redevelopment programme under development control rule 33(7). It would have given free rein to landlords to do whatever they want to do with the buildings.”

Town planner and housing rights activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu agreed. “It was an absurd move on the government’s part. This proposition of 25 per cent rent hike if repairs were carried out was clearly against law. The rules are supposed to clarify position in law; they can’t be contrary to provisions in law,” he said.

Though the Maharashtra Rent Control Act came into force in 1999, the rules were never drafted for implementation. “Only when a public interest litigation was finally filed in the Bombay High Court in 2014, did the state machinery finally start moving in this direction,” a senior official in the housing ministry had earlier said.

Original Link : http://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/tenants-of-old-buildings-spared-25-rent-hike/articleshow/58887949.cms

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