The concept of tenancy first emerged as a simple concept of conveyance of possession of property by the owner to a third person, who generally owns no interest in the property, for a consideration and a specific time period. Tenancy as we now understand is classified into a few kinds, each linked to the original concept listed under the Transfer of Property Act.
Statutory Tenancy, on the other hand is a specific concept of tenancy ratified by a statue. In other words, when a person continues to be in possession of property even after the period of lease is over, it is referred to as ‘tenancy by holding over’. This ‘tenancy by holding over’ when protected by a statue is referred to as ‘Statutory Tenancy’. Under this conception, the tenant has an exclusive right of possession to the subject property and can sue the owner if he is charged with eviction during the course of tenancy. Even though the tenant has an exclusive right of possession, he cannot sell the land or grant it by testamentary disposition. Statutory tenancy is simply then a protection given to a tenant along with a ‘right of ir-removability’.
Kinds of Tenancies
- Tenancy at will– Tenancy at will simply means the period of tenancy is subject to the will of the tenant and the owner. Although the tenant cannot be evicted with a proper notice.
- Periodic tenancies– The term periodic means ‘time period’. Periodic tenancies are therefore leases based on a monthly or an annual basis.
- Tremor tenancy– This kind of tenancy is underlaid by the English law as ‘a tenancy for a term of years’.
In the case Sivajogeswara Cotton Press v Panchaksharappa ((1962) 3 SCR 876), a lease was executed between the parties, for the purpose of constructing a factory over the land. The lessee in this case was given the right to give up possession at will. The dispute in this case arose in regard to the nature of the tenancy. The lessor sought to terminate the lease on the ground that it was ‘tenancy at will’, while the lessee contended the lease to be of a permanent nature. The court held that since the lease is for the purpose of building structures, it is usually presumed that the tenancy is of a permanent nature Navalram v Javerilal (7 Bom LR 401).
In Afzalunnisa v Abdul Karim, the parties bought a land for building purposes in 1908. There was no contract between the parties but a fixed rent was paid by one party to the other along with the word ‘permanent’ being used in the receipts of rent. There was a dispute and the owners contended that the tenancy was not of a permanent nature. The court held that although there was no written contract of the same, the fact that there was long de-facto possession by the tenants along with a fixed amount of rent creates an assumption that the parties agreed to ‘permanent tenancy’.
These cases although lead us to believe that if a person in in exclusive possession for a long period of time, he is believed to be a tenant, the same in not true for circumstances where the circumstances negative the intention of the owner. Mere possession cannot turn a tenancy into a license. However, if the circumstances show the conduct and intention of the parties to grant the occupier exclusive possession with no interest in the land, the occupant will only be a licensee; whereas if the person is granted exclusive possession along with an interest, he is termed to be a tenant.
Thus, the difference between a licensee and tenant is that of the occupant gaining an interest in the land along with an exclusive possession. The Halsbury’s law of England (2nd edition Vol. 2) talks about how this new concept of law has created a relationship with that of the newer form of ‘statutory tenancy’ which enables a tenant to not have an exclusive possession but also give him the exclusive right to protect that possession from any form of eviction during that period. Moreover, if all the occupants were merely licensees and no more than that, the owners would evict their tenants anytime at their own whims and fancies. Therefore, statutory tenancy is a form of tenancy which not only justifies an agreement of permanent tenancy between the occupier and the owner but also protects the rights of a tenant.
Statutory tenancy which is of the nature of ‘tenancy by holding over’ along with it being legally recognized states that a tenant can be evicted only after a due notice has been served on him. In cases of adversity, where a tenant has not been served with a legal notice, he cannot be evicted.
- A gave his house to B on a rental of rs 10,000/-pm for 5years. There arose a dispute between the parties and the tenant claimed that he cannot be evicted as it was a contract of tremor tenancy. Tremor tenancy is not recognized in India but the tenant can pursue other remedies claiming statutory tenancy.
- A gave his property to B on a rental basis for the next 2years. Later B died and the tenancy was passed over to C, it being of a statutory nature.
- X granted Y a small portion of his house on a rental basis without any interest in the property. It is a license and not a tenancy.
The article gives us a broad idea of how statutory tenancy is a step forward from the usual ordinary tenancy created between two parties. Thus, after this reform, the rights and liabilities of both the tenant and the owner stand in an equitable proposition.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the term statutory signify?
The term statutory propagates legality to the idea of tenancy. It gives a tenant an equitable right in the contract of tenancy.
2. Is Statutory Tenancy transferrable?
Yes, statutory tenancy usually dwells on the spouse or immediate family of the person living in the house during the period of tenancy.
3. What is an acceptable time period for an eviction notice by the tenant?
In cases of no provision in the original tenancy, a three month notice is to be served by the tenant.
4. How is statutory tenancy different from ordinary tenancy?
A statutory tenancy initiates after an ordinary one terminates and a tenancy is extended either at the will of the tenant or the owner .
Edited by Shikhar Shrivastava
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje