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People who are unmarried or single, often face problems in finding apartments on rent, across the major cities of India. “Being single is a lifestyle statement. It is not a crime by any stretch of imagination. However, my liberal thought was constantly challenged, when I left Kolkata and came to Gurgaon for a job. My choice of living a single life, was a major hurdle in getting an apartment on rent,” recounts Ramneit Mukherjee, a copywriter.
As per a Track2Realty pan-India survey, no less than 82% of professionals who are single, have found it challenging in one way or another, to get a house on rent. This is not a reality of just the small towns but in the top 10 cities of India, which are known to have cosmopolitan cultures and lifestyle.
Common reasons why landlords refuse to rent properties to single people
Many of the housing societies, especially in north India, pass diktats that the landlord cannot rent out their properties to single people. When the mandate is challenged, the society, on record, only says that the policy is meant to curb apartments from being converted into hostels.
“We have framed this by-law, for restricting apartment owners from running hostels in their premises. Students often create a ruckus. Moreover, even the payment due to the apartment owners is at risk, as these students have minimum possessions and can leave the society any time, without paying the rent,” says Rajneesh Pant, the RWA president of a housing society in Noida.
The situation is even worse for single women, with landlords sometimes going to the extent of asking them why they need the privacy of an apartment, instead of opting for a working women’s hostel. “I struggled to find a rental apartment. Finally, I gave in and stayed with a family friend, as a paying guest. The problem for me was that I was single, a woman and a journalist. All these three tags are a big ‘No No’ for landlords. Nevertheless, I am still looking for an independent apartment, so that I can have privacy to write my novel and lead life in my own way,” shares Priya Varshney, who lives in Gurgaon.
The law states that singles can’t be discriminated against
Legal opinion on the subject is quite clear but hardly being followed. Madhurendra Sharma, a consumer rights advocate, clearly says that the law of the land does not allow any landlord to discriminate against tenants, on the basis of his/her being single. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Indian cities, despite their cosmopolitan outlook, are still not inclusive about singles living on rent next door or in their own properties.
“The 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 of it, without clearly mentioning that the single status of the tenant, is the reason for refusal. A person who is single, cannot challenge and prove it in a court of law. The mindset of the society is at fault,” concludes Sharma.
Challenges faced by single tenants
- People who are single, are the most ineligible set of tenants for landlords and societies.
- Uncomfortable questions about personal choice and lifestyle often confront single tenants.
- Legal safeguards are few for single tenants because no landlord/society goes on record in writing, to deny them apartments for their single status.
- In the housing societies where a ‘No Single’ policy is spelt out, the society often defends the restriction as a move to prevent apartments from being converted into hostels.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)