Punjab pulls out 17-yr-old rent Act for notification

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 President's 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. SAD's 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.

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