Student, Hugh Wooding Law School
A tenancy is a contractual relationship between two parties, namely a landlord and a tenant. The essence of a tenancy is a grant by the landlord to the tenant of 'exclusive possession' of a property together with an intention to create the relationship of landlord and tenant. Since the basis of the relationship is contractual, the rights of parties depend on the terms of the agreement.
There are however certain rights and obligations which are part of all tenancy agreements or are implied by law. In this article, some of the usual rights and obligations of the landlord will be noted.
Rent: A landlord has the right to set and receive on a specified date, the rent for the property occupied by the tenant.
Entry: The landlord has the right to enter the property for the purposes of inspection and repairs. He must give the tenant at least 24 hours prior notice of his intention. In cases of emergency however, the landlord can enter the property without the tenant's consent.Restrict assignment/Subletting: The landlord can reasonably withhold his consent or absolutely prohibit the tenant from assigning/ transferring his interest in the property or sub-letting/renting the premises to someone else.
Terminate tenancy: The landlord can end a tenancy by giving the tenant a valid and written "Notice to Quit." If the tenancy is fixed, that is, for a specified number of years, the tenancy will end at its expiration.If the tenancy is periodic, for example monthly or yearly, the notice period is one month and six months' respectively.
A landlord can also go to court for a possession order against the tenant for reasons such as non-payment of rent or on grounds that the property is required for personal use.
Receipts: The landlord must provide the tenant with receipts for payment of rent.
Repairs: The landlord must ensure that the property is in repair and in all respects fit to live in at the start and duration of the tenancy.He must maintain both the interior and exterior of the property. To carry out this duty, the landlord must be informed of the necessity for repairs and given reasonable access to the property to do such repairs.
If the tenant after reasonably informing the landlord of the need, undertakes such repairs, then the landlord must reimburse him.
Quiet enjoyment: The landlord or anyone acting under him must not interfere with the tenant's right to peacefully occupy the property.
Fitness: When the property is furnished, there's an implication that it is reasonably fit for human habitation, that is, it has met the minimum health and safety standards such as water, sanitation and proper ventilation.
Return deposit: Where the landlord receives a security deposit, he must return it to the tenant at the end of the tenancy.It may however be kept if the tenant has, for example, failed to pay rent or has damaged the property.
�2 This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser. Co-ordinator: Roshan Ramcharitar