Before signing a lease deed...
...it is the lessee’s right to know and the lessor’s duty to disclose defects of the property
Giving and taking up a property on lease is a common transaction. The Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (TPA), lays down the numerous rights and responsibilities that lessors (landlords) and lessees (tenants) have towards each other. When entering into a lease — as a lessor or a lessee — knowing these basic covenants can help parties negotiate the terms of the lease. It is important to know that these covenants are implied in nature — in other words, they apply in the absence of a contract to the contrary between the parties.
Lessee’s rights/lessor’s responsibilities
It is the right of the lessee to have physical possession of the premises that s/he is taking up on lease. At the time of execution of the lease, the lessor should ensure peaceful, physical handover of the property to the lessee.
During the entire term of lease, the lessor is not entitled to obstruct, hinder or unduly interfere with the lessee’s quiet and peaceful possession and enjoyment of the premises. However, the lessor (being the owner of the property) has the right to restrain the lessee from using the property in an unlawful manner or in a manner which contradicts the terms of the lease deed. Before signing a lease, it is the lessee’s right to know and the lessor’s duty to disclose material defects of the property. For example, a defect in the lessor’s title of ownership of the property is a material defect which ought to be disclosed by the lessor, before execu- tion of the lease deed. In the event the lessor deliberately suppresses such vital information, the lessee may either claim damages, rescind the lease contract, or enforce specific performance of the contract. Lessee must ensure there is an express clause stating that the lessor will be responsible for carrying out repairs. If, despite a specific provision, the lessor does not make the required repairs, the lessee may make needful repairs and deduct the cost from the rent payable to the lessor. However, repairs can be made by the lessee only after a notice is sent to the lessor in this regard and the lessor’s consent is received, or if no consent is received, within reasonable time. Where the contract has no express provision regarding repairs, it is the lessee’s responsibility to carry out repairs at his/her own costs and expenses. It is the lessor’s duty to