The two pans of a scale held by Lady Justice are often seen imbalanced by many litigants in Pakistan. No where is it truer than in the field of Property Law.
The following is not a figment of this scribe’s imagination but a court’s judgment. In a landlord – tenant dispute spanning over years, if not decades, a court in Karachi ordered the tenant to vacate the house where he had lived without paying rent, but also ordered the landlord to pay the tenant and furthermore, waive off the unpaid rent which he still owed. All of this happened because there was no paperwork involved, no formal rental agreement between the two. At one point, things got so bad between the two that the tenant threatened that he would establish that he’s the rightful owner of the house because he had lived there for 25 years.
To avoid ever falling into such a sticky situation, it is absolutely imperative to know your rights enshrined in law. So, keep reading as this blog is for both landlords and tenants.
Property Laws in Pakistan
Depending upon where in Pakistan you live, these are three main laws which govern landlord – tenant relationship:
- The Punjab Rented Premises Act 2009
- The Sindh Rented Premises Ordinance 1979, and
- The West Pakistan Urban Rent Restriction Ordinance 1959 (covers KPK)
These laws cover all aspects of the landlord – tenant relationship, including rent, duration of tenancy, house repair, taxes, eviction and more.
The tenancy agreement will determine the date on which the tenant will pay the rent. However, if there is no date on the agreement, rent should be paid before the 10th of the month.
An increase in rent can also be done with the mutual understanding of both parties. They can either agree to:
- Increasing rent on an annual basis by 10%
- Increase rent after three years by 25% or
- Other option which is mutually agreed upon and written in the tenancy agreement
Regarding Duration of Tenancy
It is up to the parties to decide the duration of the Tenancy Agreement. Though, in Pakistan, rental agreements are typically done for 11 months after which they can be renewed with the mutual consent of both parties.
Regarding Taxes & Utility Bills
It is the landlord which pays the annual property tax. The tenant pays all utility bills.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to pay paint, white-wash, electric, water and sanitary fittings related expenses. If he/she does not, the tenant can pay and deduct the same amount from the rent.
No matter how bad the tenant or what the landlord thinks of him/her, the landlord cannot throw the tenant out on a whim. Pakistan’s rental laws govern this very important aspect of the landlord – tenant relationship as well.
Eviction is legal under following circumstances:
- If the tenant has regularly made rent payments, the landlord has to give the tenant a one-month notice in advance
- If the tenant has not paid the rent in the last three months, then the landlord has to give the tenant a 15-day notice in advance
- If the tenant has violated any term of the rental agreement like,
- Construction without landlord’s permission
- If the tenant has not paid the rent for the last three months
- Damaging the rented property
- Subletting or leasing the property without landlord’s permission
- Using it for a purpose other than the one mentioned in the rental agreement without landlord’s permission
Where to Go for Redressal?
Irrespective of whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, if you feel the other party has violated any term of the rental agreement, you can contact the rent controller. A rent controller is a Civil Judge who works in his/her individual capacity to speedily resolve landlord – tenant disputes without getting too much into the legal aspects relating to evidence.
In conclusion, laws relating to landlord – tenant relationships give a lot of powers in the hands of both parties. With mutual understanding and consent, they can do a lot. The problem however starts when one or both parties fail to understand their rights and obligations. Also, lack of legal paperwork like a written rental agreement for example, creates a lot of confusion and problems for both parties, often leading to litigation which can last for years.
If you’re interested in renting out your residential or commercial property or you’re interested in leasing one, check out OLX Pakistan Property listings.
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