If you’re a renter and live alone, there are laws in place to protect you. Here are some that you absolutely must have knowledge about.

1. There needs to be a written agreement.

When you rent a home, it is vital to have a legally binding written agreement between you and the homeowner. Both must sign a rent agreement or lease deed with mutually agreeable terms and conditions.  

In most cases, the owner keeps the original and the tenant can keep a copy of the document. Note that, this is for the benefit of the tenant as well, as no one can make you pay rent if there is no written agreement. 

2. The homeowner cannot enter your home without informing you.

Once the deed is signed and you’ve been paying your dues, the home is yours. The landlord cannot just drop in unannounced. You need to be given prior notice before a visit from your landlord. 

In case they need to check the house or undertake repairs or fittings, the landlord needs to give the tenant notice in writing at least 24 hours prior.

3. Rent cannot be hiked outside of the terms of agreement. 

A landlord cannot ask for an increase in rent against the terms of the lease document. In case of increase in rent after a year (or any other period of time according to the agreement), there is a set formula to calculate hike.

 One can take legal advice to come to a set amount. And one can disagree with the amount if it doesn’t abide by the formula.


4. Payment of security deposit.

The tenant must handover a security deposit to the landlord while signing the agreement. The amount for the security deposit cannot be more than three times the rent as per the law.  


5. Security deposit is to be returned to the tenant. 

Once the tenant moves out of the house, the security deposit needs to be refunded by the landlord. In some cases the amount is adjusted in the final months’ rent and settlements. In other cases, it must be returned within one month. 


6. The maintenance of the house is both parties’ responsibility.

Both the tenants and the owners are responsible for the overall maintenance of the house. 

Usually, major repairs before the tenant takes over the house is the owner’s responsibility. However, the onus lies on the tenant for smaller repairs while they’re residing. But this is not set in stone and a consensus can be arrived at and can be included in the agreement. 

In case the tenant refuses to pay for damages caused, the amount can be subtracted from the security deposit and in case the owner does the same the tenant can refuse to pay rent for that period and pay for repairs.


7. Basic necessities are the tenant’s right. 

A tenant has the right to basics such as electricity, water, communication, sanitation, clean living conditions, and so on. 

In case a basic necessity is withheld by any party, a local authority can intervene. Based on severity, a penalty can be levied and the aggrieved party can also receive monetary compensation. 

Note that, no essential service can be suspended by both tenant or owner. Even in a case if rent is not paid.


8. You cannot be evicted without notice or solid reason. 

A landlord cannot evict you without giving proper notice agreed upon in the lease deed. In most cases the notice period is between 15 days to 2 months. 


9. You cannot be forced to extend your stay. 

A tenant can decide to leave and terminate the agreement at any time by giving enough notice. No one can force you to continue with your tenancy once you have decided to vacate and have given due notice.  


10. Structural damage is the landlord’s liability. 

In case of large-scale damage to the premise which is no fault of the tenant, the landlord needs to bear the cost of repairs, according to the law. 


Familiarise yourself with these as they may come in handy.