LANDLORD BEST JUDGE OF HOUSING NEED

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In a judgment that will cheer landlords fighting legal battles to evict tenants, the Bombay High Court has held that a home-owner is the “best judge” when it comes to ascertaining whether he needs rented premises for his own use. “The court cannot prescribe for the landlord the standard of living,” the court said while upholding a recent eviction decree.

Under the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act of 1947 (also known as the Rent Act), a landlord can evict a tenant if he can prove that he needs the premises for his personal use.

In the case, tenants Sara and Joe Rauf, who occupied the first floor of a two-storey house on Church Road in Pune, had moved the high court against a lower court’s order to vacate the premises. The lower court had upheld landlord Durgadas Shroff’s (who died during the pendency of appeal) contention that he had three sons with their families, and needed more space. The Shroffs lived on the ground floor of the house.

Rauf’s counsel argued in the high court that apart from this house, the Shroffs had other three premises, though all of them were not available to them because of litigation. But Justice D B Bhosale, in his judgment last week, held that as the Shroffs could not currently use these premises, they could not be taken into consideration for deciding if they needed the Church Road house.

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