30 Nov 2023 11:06 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court has held that tenants cannot stretch their limited right to reconstruct or repair a dilapidated building in order to obstruct the property owner/landlord from redeveloping his property. Ruling in favor of the petitioner/landlord, division bench of Justice GS Patel and Justice Kamal Khata set aside the no-objection certificate ("NOC") and subsequent repair permissions...
The Bombay High Court has held that tenants cannot stretch their limited right to reconstruct or repair a dilapidated building in order to obstruct the property owner/landlord from redeveloping his property.
Ruling in favor of the petitioner/landlord, division bench of Justice GS Patel and Justice Kamal Khata set aside the no-objection certificate ("NOC") and subsequent repair permissions granted to tenants w.r.t. a building in Worli.
The court observed that the petitioner/owner was desirous of redeveloping the property and was willing to re-accomodate tenants free of cost on basis of ownership. As such, he was entitled to “enjoy the fruits of development of that property to the fullest possible extent.”
It was added that when an owner does not exercise his rights, "and stands idly by doing nothing to the prejudice of the tenants", the tenants are not without a remedy. They can have the building repaired or rebuilt to its original condition, but no more.
"This limited right of a tenant cannot be expanded to eclipse indeed, obliterate the full rights of a property owner willing to undertake redevelopment.”
The landlord in the present case had approached the court seeking quashing of the NOC issued by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to his tenants to carry out structural repairs to the subject building. He urged that he was interested in redeveloping the structure, which was constructed in the 1960s. However, the tenants averred that carrying out repairs to the building would be sufficient and they were willing to pay for the same.
A structural assessment report of the Technical Advisory Committee categorized the building as C-2A, meaning that it required repairs without tenants being evacuated. Although, the landlord claimed that the building fell under the uninhabitable C-1 category and needed to be redeveloped.
The landlord's counsel highlighted that the landlord was willing to re-accommodate all tenants on an ownership basis at the time of redevelopment.
Conversely, the respondent-tenants submitted that redevelopment was not on the cards when they sought repair permissions. Moreover, the building was in the C-2A category, so it could not be redeveloped till it was declared C1.
The main question before the bench was whether, merely based on a structural assessment, a tenant of a building could wholly eclipse the valuable rights of development associated with a landlord's ownership of a property under Section 499 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888.
The bench remarked that even if a building is in good order and condition, but the owner still desires to redevelop it, tenants cannot restrain the owner from redevelopment merely because they believe that repair would be sufficient.
“If there is a redevelopment proposal and the broad terms of the building are set out, whether or not these are acceptable to the tenants is immaterial. They are being re-accommodated, and their tenancies are being converted free of cost to ownership.”
While cancelling repair NOC issued to tenants, the court clarified that if the landlord does not submit a proposal for development to the MCGM within a reasonable period of time, tenants or an association of the tenants would be entitled to submit a proposal for reconstruction.
Advocate Mayur Khandeparkar with Abhijit Patel appeared for Petitioner
Advocate Pooja Yadav appeared for MCGM
Senior Counsel Girish S Godbole with Joel Carlos and Leena Shah appeared for respondent Nos. 7 to 12
Case Title: Anandrao G Pawar v. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Ors., Writ Petition (L) No. 20227/2023
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment