Can housing societies refuse tenants? Here’s what you need to know

How seriously should you take your housing society
Yes, you have to, but if they infringe on the fundamental rights of a citizen, they can be challenged in a court of law. Here are a few things you probably had no idea about

 

Singling out singles

Being single is the biggest disadvantage if you are looking to rent a house in the metros. This is because most housing societies disallow their members from leasing their properties to bachelors, say real estate experts. So, even if the owner wants to give it on rent to a group of singles, the housing society won’t give him a no-objection certificate (NOC).

Bachelors typically don’t stick to a place for long and this doesn’t provide stability in rental income compared with that from families, says Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association.

 

Can housing societies frame their own laws?

If legal experts are to be believed, the housing societies can indeed frame their own laws. According to Ravi Goenka , advocate, Goenka Law Associates, there are broad guidelines, or bye-laws , that every housing society adopts when it is registered. These rules and regulations govern the day-to-day functioning of the housing society and are crucial to its smooth running.

 

How strong are these laws?

The guidelines are typically framed under the Co-operative Societies Act, which is a Central Act. This provides specific guidelines for a society to be registered with the municipal corporations, its governance structures, common area maintenance rights, dos & don’ts , accounting practices.
The Act also offers a degree of flexibility to societies to add regulations of their own, say experts.

Example: If the housing society has made a rule for tenants, according to which they cannot park their vehicles in the parking slots allotted to members , then they have every right to enforce it.

Can the housing society overrule a flat owner?

Om Ahuja, CEO, residential services, Jones Lang LaSalle India, explains that though it is the legal right of the owner to lease his property, the housing society in which the flat is situated, too, has a say in it. Individual societies are legally empowered to deny tenancy based on their bye-laws . In many cases , such bye-laws are interpreted in a certain manner in order to achieve this. However, they have no constitutional right to do so.

 

How about charging more from owners leasing their property?

Housing societies that impose additional maintenance charges on the apartment owners who have leased their property are legally allowed to do so under The Societies Act.

 

Can the bye-laws be challenged?

Vinod Sampat, president, Cooperative Societies Residential Users Association, and a real estate lawyer, explains that any regulation which infringes on the fundamental rights of an individual can be challenged in the court of law. The housing society regulations don’t have the same stature as that of a law. Every Indian citizen has the right to reside anywhere in the country and discrimination is not allowed on the basis of religion, caste, sex, eating habits or marital status.

How can a tenant go about it?

If a tenant feels a housing society has not been fair, he can file a police complaint against it, claiming infringement of his rights as a citizen. The member, too, can take legal recourse, such as approaching the civil or the cooperative court. He can also appeal to the deputy registrar of housing societies concerning his grievances.