The Punjab government has once again pulled out the 17-year-old Punjab Rent Control Act-1995 from the cold storage for notification.
The cabinet sub-committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal constituted to study the impact of the Act has recommended that the Act be notified,but with certain amendments. The Act,along with the proposed amendments,was on Monday sent to the legal remembrancer for his comments.
The Punjab Rent Control Bill was passed by the legislative Assembly in April 1995 and the Act thus formed got the Presidents assent in 1998. However,the Act was never notified.
Once notified,the period for the enforcement of the Act will be three years,during which,certain minimum revised rent to the landlord will be fixed. The tenant will be given three years to vacate the property or have a mutually acceptable agreement with the landlord. In case of any contention,the landlord will have the freedom to move the rent authority. The Act provides for the constitution of a rent authority (generally SDMs) at the sub-divisional level,which will entertain cases coming under the provisions of the Act.
Broadly,the Act regulates the landlord-tenant relationship by arming the landlord with legal teeth to evict tenants. The strong tenant lobby,however,has been opposing the implementation of the Act on the grounds that this will lead to an increase in rents. SADs ally BJP has been airing the cause of the tenants and objecting to the notification of the Act. The government,on the other hand,is under immense pressure to implement the Act to get its share in JNNURM funds.
The state government,caught between giving up on the much-needed JNNURM funds and taking a politically harsh decision,has now decided to balance the provisions of the Act with amendments. The amendments,sources said,will be made through ordinances once the Act is notified.
The Act was seriously considered for notification in 2009 during the earlier Akali-BJP regime but no decision could be taken mainly due to BJPs pressure. In 2009,a three-member committee of the government was sent to study the impact of the Acts implementation in other states. The committee had reported that the Act has resulted in a real estate and rent market boom.
It has also led to an increase in construction activity and improved availability of housing.
The cabinet sub-committee,which included several senior BJP ministers,also mulled over bringing in a new act but the idea was shunned as the entire process would have taken over three years to fructify. Any new act passed will have to be sent to the President for consent.