Rental laws in Pakistan are primarily regulated by provincial legislation (excluding cantonment area), and each province has separate legislation governing the relationship between the landlord and tenant. Some of the primarily legislation in this area are as follows:-
- Sindh Rented Premises Ordinance 1979;
- Punjab Rented Premises Act 2009;
- The North-west Frontier Province/Baluchistan Urban Rent Restriction Ordinance 1959;
- Islamabad Rent Restriction Ordinance 2001;
- Cantonment Rent Restriction Act 1963.
Where a tenant is unwilling to vacate the premises which had been let out to the tenant under a tenancy agreement or otherwise, the aggrieved landlord may file a case for eviction against that tenant before the concerned court, generally known as Rent Controller. As far as the rental laws of Sindh are concerned the same is regulated by (i) Sindh Rented Premises Ordinance 1979 (‘SRPO’) and (ii) Cantonment Rent Restriction Act 1963 (‘CRRA’).
It must be noted that all rent/eviction related cases with respect to Cantonment Areas, throughout Pakistan, will be governed and regulated by CRRA. As far as Karachi is concerned, there are six (6) cantonment areas in the City: Clifton Cantonment, Malir Cantonment, Faisal Cantonment, Karachi Cantonment, Korangi Cantonment and Manora Cantonment; and the non-cantonment areas of Sindh will be governed and regulated by SRPO.
Grounds for filing a case for eviction:
The landlord will have to satisfy any of the grounds for eviction to effectively proceed with a case of eviction against a tenant. It is important to note that most of the grounds of eviction in SPRO and CRRA are similar in nature, where the landlord, in order to evict a tenant, will have to establish that either: –
- default in payment of rent;
- the tenant has impaired the value of rented premises;
- breached a provision of the tenancy agreement ;
- misuse of rented property, for instance, utilizing it commercially rather than as a residential space;
- handed over the possession to some other person;
- indulged in activities which are causing nuisance to the neighbours;
- the landlord requires the premises for personal use (including for the use/occupation of his spouse or children).
Default in payment of rent:
The landlord can file a case for eviction based on the ground if the tenant has defaulted in the payment of rent. The law in this area has given some flexibility both to the Court and to the tenant. The general principle in accordance with Section 15 of SRPO is that if the tenant fails to pay the due rent within 15 days from the period fixed as per the agreement, the same is going to be construed as default. Nonetheless, in absence of any fixed period, then the period extends to 60 days before the eviction can be filed. However, at the same time, the law has imposed a duty on the Rent Controller that if the default does not exceed 6 months, and the tenant accepts its liability to pay on the first date of hearing and the eviction is based solely on the ground of default then the Rent Controller shall reject the eviction of the tenant.
Nonetheless, if the landlord deliberately avoids receiving the rent so that the tenant shall default, and the tenant has either sent that due rent via postal money order or submitted to the Rent Controller/Court, the tenant’s legal obligation of rental payments stands satisfied, and the landlord may not be able to use the ground of rent default in his case for eviction against the tenant.
Requiring the premises of personal use:
Furthermore, as per the SRPO, the landlord can also file a case for eviction on the ground of requiring the premises for his own personal occupation. In contrast, as per CRRA, the landlord can also file a case for eviction on the ground of requiring the premises for his own personal occupation, provided the landlord establishes that he is not occupying any other building, which is suitable to his needs, in or near the cantonment area.
It must be noted that where the landlord has evicted the tenant on the ground for personal use and later relets the premises to another tenant, the landlord, under SRPO, will be charged fine equal to a year’s rent and/or the evicted tenant can apply before the Controller for restoration of the possession. As far as the application of CRRA is concerned, where the landlord has evicted the tenant on the ground for personal use and does not occupy the premises within one (01) month from the date pf possession, then the evicted tenant may apply to the Rent Controller seeking restoration of his possession in the said premises.
Premises required by the landlord for reconstruction:
The landlord can also file a case for eviction on the ground of demolishing the rented premises for reconstruction, provided the landlord has attained the demolition permission from the requisite competent authority. However, if the landlord evicts the tenant on the ground of reconstruction or erection of a new building then as per SRPO, he should demolish the old building within ‘six months’ or reconstruct the building ‘within two years’ of the taking over the possession of the building.
Whereas, as per CRRA, the landlord should demolish the building within four months and reconstruct within two years otherwise, unless the landlord satisfies the Rent Controller/Court that he was prevented from having the building demolished or constructing the building within the stipulated time by reasons beyond his control as the landlord could be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine or with both
COURT APPROACHES IN CASES OF EVICTION:
- Default in payment of rent:
In Sultan Textile Mills vs State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (2019 CLC N 22), the High Court held that it is a well settled law that default of even a single day cannot be condoned. In addition, in the case of Reckitt & Colman of Pakistan Ltd vs Saifuddin Lotia (2000 SCMR 1924), the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that once default is committed it cannot be wiped out by any subsequent payment, and the penalty incurred by reason of such default cannot be staged off by subsequent payment.
- Practice of the tenant paying accumulated rent of several months:
In Alima Ahmed vs Amir Ali (PLD 1984 SC 32), the Supreme Court held that the practice of the landlady of collecting accumulated rents was of no avail to the tenant for the purposes of explaining the delays and defaults. The tenant was clearly in default in paying or tendering the rent, there was no plausible explanation for such default, and therefore he was liable to ejectment. In addition, in the case of Hajiani Aisha and others vs Abdul Waheed (PLD 1989 SC 489), the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that the mere fact that the landlord accepts the rent from the tenant periodically does not mean that he does not desire or expect rent to be paid on time as required by law; and, a defense based on the ground of landlord receiving or collecting the rent at intervals of several months is not a good ground because the tenant is under a legal obligation to pay rent to the landlord, and the landlord is not supposed to go and collect the rent from him.
- Requiring the premises of personal use:
In the case of Naseer Uddin Jatoi vs Reham Asad (2022 YLR 2243) the landlady was successful in having the tenant evicted from the premises, as she had successfully established that she required the premises for her personal use as well as for the use of her two unmarried sisters, while on the contrary the tenant had failed rebut/discredit the stance of the landlady.
- Sub-letting the premises without the permission of landlord:
In Muhammad Naseem vs Muhammad Imran (2014 MLD 927), the High Court, upon examining the evidence had held that the landlord required the premises for his personal use and that the tenant had sub-let the premises without any legal justification, hence the occupant was directed to vacate the premises in favor of the landlord.
- Impairing value or utility of property:
In Terra Marine Agencies vs ADJ & others (2007 YLR 1224), the High Court held that it is not necessary that the acts of the tenant must have conclusively diminished the value or utility of the premises but it would be within the mischief of the Ordinance if such acts are likely to do so which have a tendency to the same effect of materially diminishing the value or utility of the premises; any material structural alterations which tend to damage the nature and character of the premises would come within the mischief of the said provisions of the Ordinance. The alterations carried out by the tenant was an infringement of the tenancy agreement as they had not sought prior permission from the landlord for such alterations and therefore the tenant was directed to evict the premises.
In Al-Noor Education Society vs K. Mushtaq Illahi (1993 CLC 1798), the High Court held that it is well-settled that the words ‘value’ or ‘utility’ in the Ordinance must be read disjunctively. It is not that the ‘disputed/challenged’ act must impair both the value and utility of the building, but it suffices if the material impairment is either of the financial value of the premises or similarly of the utility for the purposes of the landlord if he is able to establish either of the two requirements. The facts of the case suggested that drastic changes in the structure of the premises had been made, wherein the verandah (open air gallery) was completely merged into a room, and it was observed by the High Court that there can hardly be any doubt that the inclusion of verandah into the building constitutes structural alteration and had impaired materially the utility of the premises. Lower lawn has been converted into a cemented floor, which was serving as basket-ball field also constituted alteration. This, the aforesaid acts of the tenant undoubtedly, fell within the ambit of the Ordinance and the tenant was directed to evict the premises accordingly.
Based on the analysis of the mentioned case laws, both landlords and tenants have available remedies to enforce their rights. To seek these remedies, a case must be filed before the appropriate court, typically the Rent Controller. It is crucial to understand that the outcome of each case is determined by the presented facts and evidence, and the court will make its decision accordingly.