News Point: Metro cities might project to be cosmopolitan and liberal but are conservative with single tenants who face discrimination.
‚ÄúBeing single is a lifestyle statement. It is not a crime by any stretch of imagination. But then my liberal thought was constantly challenged when I left Kolkata and came to Gurgaon for the job. It suddenly seemed to me that my choice of living a single life was a crime that debarred me to get an apartment on rent,‚ÄĚ says Ramneit Mukherjee, a copywriter.
Ramneit is not alone in having faced this kind of apartheid in rental housing market for being single. Across the major cities of India, the singles face the challenge to explain to the landlords as to why have they preferred to be single. Many suspect them to lead an indecent life and lifestyle choice and hence not eligible to rent out the house.
As per a Track2Realty pan-India survey, no les than 82 per cent single professionals have found it challenging in one way or the other to get a house on rent. This is not a reality of small towns but in the top 10 cities of India known to have metropolitan culture & lifestyle, singles are finding it hard to get n apartment on rent.
Challenges galore for single tenant¬†
Singles are the most ineligible set of tenants for the landlord and the society
Uncomfortable questions about personal choice, life, lifestyle & personal life confronts single tenants
No BF/GF allowed to getting registered entry of only one BF/GF is how metro cities react to single tenants
Legal safeguards are few for single tenants because no landlord/society denies them in writing for single status
In the housing societies where ‚ÄėNo Single‚Äô policy is spelt out, Society by-laws defends it as restriction to convert apartment into hostels¬†
In many of the housing societies, with the North India having the worst track record, there is a by-law that the landlord can not rent it out to singles. When the mandate is challenged, the society on record only says that the policy is meant to curb apartments being converted into hostels.
‚ÄúWe have framed this by-law for restricting the apartment owners to run hostels. These students often create ruckus for other apartment owners. Moreover, even the payment of apartment owners is at risk because these students with a bag or two at possession can leave the society anytime without even paying the rent,‚ÄĚ says the RWA President of a housing society in Noida.
The situation is even worse for the single women. They are more often than not turned off with a suspicion in the eyes of the landlord. Many landlords bluntly ask them that for what kind of privacy do they even need an apartment instead of working women‚Äôs hostel.
‚ÄúI had to struggle a lot and finally I gave in to stay with a family friend as the paying guest. The problem with me has been manifold ‚Äď a single, a woman and a journalist. All these three tags are a big ‚ÄėNo No‚Äô for the landlords. But I am still looking for an independent apartment so that I can have the privacy to write my novel and lead life in my own way,‚ÄĚ says Priya Varshney in Gurgaon.
Legal opinion on the subject is quite clear but hardly being followed because the denial to singles is never on the record. Madhurendra Sharma, a consumer right advocate clearly says that the law of the land does not allow any landlord to discriminate the tenant on the basis of his/her being single. But then there is a grey zone that makes them stigmatise the singles while renting out the property.
‚ÄúThe problem is that no law can force a landlord to rent out the property to singles, unless one has in writing denied the tenant on the said basis. A landlord always has the first right of refusal; and one can avail it without clearly mentioning that the single status of the tenant is the reason of refusal. A single can not challenge and prove it in the court of law. The mindset of the society is at fault,‚ÄĚ says Sharma.
‚ÄėSingle in the City‚Äô might be very fascinating in the movies but in the context of urban Indians looking for a rented apartment it is a horror story. The Indian cities despite of their cosmopolitan outlook are still not inclusive with the singles living on rent the next door. ¬†Frivolous excuses to stringent regulations, and no BF/GF to restricting the entry of only one BF/GF registered with the society, the life of a single tenant only indicates that the Indian cities are yet to grow up.
By: Ravi Sinha