Travails of tenants

Home seekers are forced to condition themselves to rules imposed by owners; the latter fear that verifying antecedents may put off prospective occupa
Last Updated 09 February 2013, 18:59 IST

IIt is frequently referred to as a cosmopolitan city these days and is a popular destination for many. The salubrious clime is a big attraction and there is no dearth of employment opportunities, whether you are an engineer or a stone mason.

Bangalore has indeed come a long way and for many, the pull of this economic destination is magnetic. And of course, where there are more people coming in, there is an immediate effort to fulfil the basic need of housing.

The travails of tenants is often a good indicator that Bangalore’s cosmopolitan outlook is nothing more than a cosmetic change designed to prove that the mindset of the people can keep up with its shiny malls. But owners say one should not be too quick to judge them and they have reasons to be wary.

According to a report released in April 2012 by Vestian Global, a US-based company, which invests in real estate firms in India, about one lakh is the rate of IT/ITes workforce being added annually to Bangalore in the past two years.

Roughly, 44,000 residential units were launched in 2011 and 20,600 units were purchased. Yes, the business of renting out an accommodation, be it a villa or a hastily turned paying guest accommodation, is a profitable venture for most people.

R Sharma, a resident of JP Nagar, did not think twice when he converted his single-storey house constructed on a 20X40 plot into a two-storey house plus another room on the third floor. Three rooms were constructed on the second floor, with one bathroom. The construction is illegal for it is sans permission and the facilities way short of perfect, but who cares?

For, Sharma has rented it out to four boys from North India, who pay him a tidy Rs 5,500 per month for each room. Sharma has his rules. No non-vegetarian food and no smoking, but both rules are broken by the boys.

“I suspect they do bring non-vegetarian food, but I do not keep such a close watch on that. As long as they do not cause any problems for me, I do not bother with what they do,” Sharma says.

But one rule they can’t break is — no girls in the room. The boys do not mind. One of the occupants, Ritwik, works for a big IT company. His salary is less than most people think an IT firm would pay. So, he chooses to stay in a paying guest accommodation rather than a house.

“We do not mind the rules. I have been in Bangalore for two years and this is my third place. The owners usually ask so many questions, have so many rules that they make life difficult for us. This is a place where I am really comfortable. I do not really mind if I cannot have any of my friends who are girls visiting,” he says.

Owners face their own set of problems looking for tenants. In many cases, many Indians who live abroad choose to buy apartments rather than independent homes in Bangalore as ‘investment’. While that sounds logical, the problem arises when it comes to the nitty-gritty like renting it out, upkeep, solving maintenance issues. In most cases, this job falls into the lap of old parents. While the new generation might be open to different tenants, it is not easy to convince the older generation of parents, who might have several discriminating notions.

“By the time I built my own house, I had very few years left for retirement. My son, however, who is just 37 years old, lives abroad and brought his second two-bedroom apartment in the City. While he has kept the first apartment for the family’s use, he wants to rent out the second one. That is on our heads now and it’s very stressful.

We want only families who belong to our own caste. So, we do not face any problems. At this age, I don’t think I can deal with it, if anything untoward happens,” confessed Krishna Kumar. He can afford to be choosy, for he does not exactly face a dearth of tenants.

Some other owners prefer corporate clients as they do not have to worry about the antecedents of the people they are renting the house to. Websites advertising for residential properties are filled with posts which ask for corporate clients and that rent can be negotiated. Once again, this provides the easy way out for most owners.

Of course, individual tenants will have to give a letter from the company saying they are employed there. Guaranteed rent payment and in many cases, corporate clients translate to lesser maintenance work for the wear and tear on the apartment is also less.

Many owners claim that tenant verification is indeed important, but most of them have never done it. Time and again, the police have tried to make it mandatory to get the owners register their tenants’ names and addresses in the local police station along with some form of identity proof. Muniraju, the owner of a three-bedroom apartment at an upscale complex in Koramangala, shudders at the thought.

“I know it’s a matter of safety. But I would be appalled to do such a thing. If they found out that I was registering the names with the police station, I might not even get tenants. Moreover, my tenants are well-to-do people. It is not possible for them to be involved in any criminal activity,” he says naively.

(Published 09 February 2013, 18:59 IST)

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