We all know Chandigarh as one of the most greenest, cleanest and happiest city of India. Even BBC termed Chandigarh as a perfect city of the world. But does this mean that everything in Chandigarh is perfect? Well, at least the laws governing landlords and tenants are not.
This story is about a 84 year old woman named “Sheila Emile” who has spent almost 60 years of her life in Chandigarh. Like every human, she has seen good times as well as bad ones. The biggest setbacks have been the loss of her husband and her son. Sheila Emile built and spent her entire life at House No 144 in Sector 9 of Chandigarh. Being a senior citizen and living in Chandigarh – the city of peace, she does not see peace anywhere near her. Her senior citizen rights as well as women rights seem to be of no use as she is going through immense stress and unrest.
Emile’s only fault is that she rented out a part of her Chandigarh house to support herself with rental income. Oh wait, Is that a fault? It surely isn’t as everyone has a right to rent out their property. But the problem is that landlords don’t have a right to their property. Irony of the situation is that a lot of people take undue advantage by being tenants and harass landlords by not renewing contracts, not paying rent on time, refusing to leave, and creating stressful day-to-day situations. As of today, Sheila Emile is fighting a court case in Chandigarh against her tenants and the case is going on since last 8 years. She says, “The landlord – tenant laws in Chandigarh and our Indian Judicial system have failed me.”
About Sheila Emile
We went to see this old lady at her residence and were happy to know that she spent her entire life as a social worker, shaping the city that we currently enjoy. She came to Chandigarh in 1960’s with her husband, late advocate Mr. Albert George Emile (they were one of the first residents in the city of Chandigarh). Mrs. Emile was on the Advisory Committee for the city and founding member of many of the facilities we enjoy today, including the Secretariat, Sukhna Lake, Central Club (in sector 9), Innerwheel (part of Rotary), and various Ladies Clubs. She also spent her life volunteering at the Blind School, Red Cross, Bal Bhawan, Mother Teresa’s Orphanage, Women’s Centers, etc., touching almost every charity in the city.
What made us feel pity about the old woman is that after spending 60 years of her life in the city of Chandigarh (more than anyone of us has spent), the city is not able to provide her justice. Fighting court cases at an age of 84, that too to get her own house vacated from tenants, is not how one needs to be spending their old age.
The Case: What the old lady wants
How would you feel if your relatives come to see you and you don’t even have a room to offer despite owning an entire house? Maybe, this would not matter much to some of us, but it is a cause of depression for this 84 year old woman. She says, “All my family lives abroad and they have to alternate their visits to come see me. I only have one guest room, so if they bring their friends or relatives along, they have to put up in hotels. I feel so bad that they have to shell out for hotel bills and not be able to enjoy the comforts of their own home.”
Having lost her husband and her only son, Sheila Emile wants to live the rest of her life with peace, which is hard to find with tenants encroaching her home. Above all, non payment / late payment of rent, leaves this old lady cash strapped for living expenses, and has to turn to her daughter in US to cover costs for lawyers, utilities, food and maids.
Landlord – Tenant Laws in Chandigarh
Being a landlord, you cannot get your own house evacuated from tenants. This is the truth. Laws governing landlords and tenants in Chandigarh have been found to be favouring tenants instead of landlords. Even if you go to a court, the case goes on for years (8 years in the case of Sheila Emily) and you are left with no other option than to file lawsuits, pay hefty lawyer fees and go to court hearings every month.
I am sure that there are many Sheilas’ in Chandigarh itself, fighting for their rights without the sight of justice. Something needs to be changed. We need to care for our elderly (especially the people who have given us this city beautiful which has become our pride).
A lawyer friend told me that around 70% of cases in Chandigarh District Court are related to property issues. Should this fact not ring bells for Chandigarh Administration and other authorities working to make Chandigarh a smart city? I’ll leave the question to you.
The article has been written by Ajay Deep and contains words, facts and situations as told by Sheila Emile who is a resident of Chandigarh since last 60 years and still says that Chandigarh is far from being a perfect city.