What to do if your landlord is trying to evict you illegally?
Landlords trying to evict tenants illegally through harassment, coercion, or by force is an unfortunate reality in India’s rental housing scene. Many tenants face issues like landlords cutting off essential services, threats of violence, changing door locks illegally, etc. aimed at driving them out. As a tenant, you need to know your rights and take appropriate countermeasures to stop unlawful eviction attempts.
Understand Eviction Laws and Due Process
Be aware of rental laws and eviction due process in your Indian state. For instance, in Delhi, landlords need to first issue a written notice with specific grounds for eviction and allow the tenant time to respond before filing for eviction formally in Rent Court. Any deviation from the formal procedures laid out in law qualifies as illegal eviction.
Review Eviction Terms in Your Rental Contract
Carefully study the eviction terms and conditions detailed in your rental agreement. See if it mentions things like requiring prior written notices, limits on notice period, specific violation grounds that warrant eviction etc. If the landlord initiates any eviction action without following proper procedures outlined in the contract, their case becomes severely weak.
Issue a Written Objection Immediately
If you receive any verbal or written eviction threats that seem unlawful or lack valid grounds, object immediately through a formal letter sent via registered post. Clearly inform the landlord you consider this an illegal eviction attempt and will pursue appropriate legal recourse to protect your rights as a tenant.
Gather Evidence of Harassment
Start gathering written records, photos, videos and audio evidence if the landlord tries to coerce you to vacate through harassment tactics like cutting water supply, threats of violence, forcibly throwing out belongings etc. Solid evidence proves these are illegal strong-arm tactics aimed at circumventing the formal eviction process.
Lodge a Police Complaint
Don’t tolerate physical intimidation or harassment from the landlord. File a police complaint detailing the nature of threats, abuse, or force being used illegally to evict you without following due process. The police can summon the landlord, issue warnings, and even make arrests to stop the harassment based on your complaint.
File a Complaint with the Rent Authority
Write to the Rent Authority office in your city or state explaining the landlord's illegal eviction attempt through harassment and denial of essential services. Include copies of any verbal/written threats received and objections raised by you. The Rent Authority can initiate punitive action against the landlord for trying to unlawfully bypass formal eviction procedures.
Hire a Tenant Rights Lawyer
Consult a lawyer well-versed in rental laws and tenant rights protection for expert assistance in such a situation. They can issue a strong legal notice to the landlord on your behalf warning them to cease the illegal activities immediately or face court action. A lawyer can also help prepare your case if you need to go to Rent Court.
Take the Landlord to Court
If harassment or coercion continues despite police complaints and Rent Authority intervention, approach the Rent Court with your evidence and file an injunction requesting protection from illegal eviction. Also demand compensation for any losses faced due to the landlord denying you peaceful housing services. The court can force the landlord to comply and impose fines.
Consider Reaching a Settlement
If you wish to move out but want to avoid a lengthy legal battle, consider negotiating a reasonable settlement with the landlord. For instance, you can mutually agree to terminate rental contract prematurely if the landlord provides 1-2 months' rent as compensation for inconvenience and pays your moving expenses. Consult a lawyer before signing any settlement.
Publicize Your Experience to Warn Others
After resolving the dispute, write fact-based reviews about your experience on rental websites and social media groups as a warning to future tenants about potential harassment by the same landlord. You can also approach local tenant unions who may be tracking such illegal activities by specific serial offenders.
Dealing with illegal eviction attempts requires you to act quickly and decisively. Follow these steps to protect your lawful occupancy rights, hold your landlord accountable, and prevent aggressive coercion. Don’t vacate simply out of fear and harassment. Know the law is on your side as a tenant and stand your ground firmly.