Termination of Leases – Express or Implied 

Landlord-Tenant relationship is a jural relationship and is governed by the provisions of Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (Act). In a landlord/tenant relationship, the parties are often referred to as lessor (landlord) and lessee (tenant). The contract under which the landlord-tenant relationship is bound is a lease agreement. The term ‘lease’ is defined under Section 105 of the Act and states as follows – 

“A lease of immovable property is a transfer of a right to enjoy such property, made for a certain time, express or implied, or in perpetuity, in consideration of a price paid or promised, or of money, a share of crops, service or any other thing of value, to be rendered periodically or on specific occasions to the transferor by the transferee, who accepts the transfer on such terms”. Thus, a lease of an immovable property is a contract between two principal parties the lessor and the lessee, whereby the lessor creates an interest in favour of the lessee with regard to property for a specific duration.
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Validity of Operational Licenses In The Wake of Covid-19 – A Grey Area

In the wake of the pandemic Covid-19, many legal and regulatory modifications have been undertaken in the country to facilitate compliances by the business houses as well as ease of doing business.

Recently, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, Real Estate Regulatory Authority, to name a few, have issued various regulations as well as amended the existing ones to suitably modify timelines and processes needed for secretarial compliances, periodic reporting, disclosure requirements, tasks to be undertaken under liquidation process etc.
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REITs in India - A prescription for regulatory inoculations and booster shots

In our previous piece , we had gazed into our crystal ball for predictions on the future of REITs in India, specifically in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath. However, putting the largely untameable forces of macroeconomic factors, sectoral outlooks and market perceptions aside, there are some regulatory changes which, if introduced by the relevant regulators in a timely manner, could provide the real estate sector and specifically, REITs in India, with the necessary shot in the arm to thrive in the times to come. Set out below is a short wish-list.
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 REITs in India - Some predictions for the next 24 months

  • Tenant-landlord dynamics are likely to change. In the short term, tenants may seek dispensation, moratoriums or discounts to their payment obligations, on the grounds of force majeure or otherwise. In the medium term, there will be an expectation from developers to increase spend on social wellness and hygiene infrastructure.
  • The forced experiment of remote working may become a norm for certain businesses and have an impact on the flexi-working policies of all businesses, one way or another. As a result, tenants may reassess their space utilisation requirements, and developers, their ability to offer IT infrastructure, which can enable seamless connectivity for their tenants.


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Real Estate’s ride through Covid-19 and way forward

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, referred to as Covid-19, has struck at the roots of some of the world’s largest countries. After WHO declared Covid-19 a Pandemic (the “Pandemic”), many countries announced measures to contain its spread. In what is considered as a timely step, Government of India on March 24, 2020 imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown (“Lockdown”) under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 (“DMA”) (which is likely to get extended further), during which various establishments including malls, offices etc., were directed to suspend their operations.
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COVID-19 - Impact on Real Estate

With a lot of disruption and backlog due to coronavirus, all industries, along with the real estate sector, have taken a massive hit. The year 2019 was not such a progressive year and everyone was counting on 2020 to recover and improve from last year’s lows. However, the real estate sector is in a deep standstill on the back of the global economic crisis, coupled with the COVID-19 situation.

This scenario calls for anyone to take precautions and due to restrictive movement because of the travel ban and the stock market crash, developers for one are not looking to take any chance in blocking their money in launching any new projects. At this point, one of the challenges being faced by them is the impact on contracts/agreements due to COVID-19, which are currently in motion/existence. The question being raised is whether the COVID-19 pandemic calls for a force majeure consideration in the existing contracts. Force majeure clause acts as a protection to parties wherein due to any unforeseen circumstances, either of the parties are unable to fulfil their commitment as per the agreed terms and conditions of the contract. To put it simply, due to any acts of god such as fire, flood, war, etc., parties are unable to perform their part as it is not reasonably within the control.
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Growing commercial leasing

In keeping with the trend in real estate space, both local and foreign corporates have accepted the norm of leasing spaces to conduct their business activities in India. In metro cities, demand for commercial spaces have led to time renewal of existing lease/license as well as spike in request for additional space. The demand for leasing of residential spaces, in comparison, has been as robust.

What does one keep in mind while leasing a commercial space and how important is the role of a legal advisor and other service providers in relation to such an acquisition? We have tried to sum up some of the key factor contributing to the development of this leasing sector and some of the sector specific services required.
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 Post-Listing Frameworks for REITs

REIT IT RIGHT

An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. The previous parts can be accessed here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 .

Investor protection forms the bedrock of securities laws frameworks around the world with securities regulators putting in place meticulous and stringent governance, reporting as well as compliance frameworks for listed entities. The Indian securities regulator  has also prescribed a labyrinthine set of laws for post-listing reporting and corporate governance compliances by listed companies.

In stark contrast, however, the present regulatory framework for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in India offers limited guidance on post-listing compliances by listed REITs, mandating few compliances (mainly in relation to financial reporting, annual and half-yearly disclosures and investor grievances) and remaining silent on the applicability of a vast number of other obligations (including in relation to prevention of insider trading, takeovers and acquisitions, open offers etc.) which are typically applicable to listed companies.
Continue Reading Part V – Post-Listing Frameworks for REITs – A Giant Jigsaw with many a Missing Piece

  Taxation of REITs in India

 

*An eight-part series covering the commercial and legal considerations of REIT listings in India. Click here to read Part III.

The Government started putting in place a framework for taxation of business trusts even before the regulations governing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) were notified by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). This was not without reason – progressive regulations and tax reforms have influenced the progress of REITs globally, with REIT markets witnessing sudden growth spurts in countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong almost immediately following favourable tax amendments.

Closer home, five years and multiple amendments later, the Indian tax regime for REITs is a complex proposition and comes with a wishlist from nearly all stakeholders involved in a typical REIT. With Indian real estate likely to provide investment opportunity worth up to USD 77 bn through REIT-eligible commercial office and retail properties across India’s top seven cities by 2020[1], there can be no better time to look at some of the key issues.
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Home Buyers are equivalent toFinancial Creditors Supreme Court Reigns

The Supreme Court in Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Limited vs. Union of India (Pioneer Judgment)[1], has upheld the constitutionality of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Act, 2018 (Amendment Act)[2]. Through the Amendment Act[3], the ‘real estate allottees’ (home buyers), as defined under Section 2(d) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), were brought within the ambit of ‘financial creditor’ under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).

A three judges’ bench headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rohinton Nariman disposed off a batch of over 150 petitions filed by the real estate developers challenging the constitutional validity of the Amendment Act. The Supreme Court also held that the RERA has to be read harmoniously with the IBC and, in the event of a conflict, the IBC will prevail over the RERA.


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