First-ever housing census shows only 47.2% households live in own property

Data released by the Directorate of Census Operations shows that nearly 53 per cent households in Chennai district lived in homes that did not belong to them — something that is bound to make the tenant-enumeration drive by the city police challenging.

According to the first House Listing and Housing Census released by Director of Census Operations (Tamil Nadu) S. Gopalakrishnan on Tuesday, the number of households that live in their own properties in Chennai district is just 47.2 per cent.

Chennai district, with over 5.65 lakh tenant households, is abode of half of the total rented households in and around Chennai Metropolitan Area.

The district has a total of 11.06 lakh households, while Kancheepuram has 9.93 lakh and Tiruvallur 9.38 lakh.

While the percentage of rented households in the State is 23.4, over 51.1 per cent of households in Chennai district, 31.1 per cent in Kancheepuram and 28.3 per cent in Tiruvallur live in rented accommodations.

As per the report, a household in census is defined as a group of persons who normally live together and take their meals from a common kitchen. The persons in a household may be related or unrelated or a mix of both.

So far, the city police have received just 22,000 filled-in tenant information forms under the enumeration drive that began on February 3.

Most forms were received by the West Zone of Chennai Police, which also includes many neighbourhoods in Tiruvallur district. Police stations in the South Zone, which includes parts of Kancheepuram district, have also received a large number of the forms.

Collection of the forms in central areas of Chennai district is yet to gather momentum, even though lakhs of households in the area live in rented buildings.

Following the seizure of a country-made handgun and bullets from a house rented by an engineering college student in Injambakkam recently, police have intensified their call to all house-owners to cooperate with police and submit the forms.

The forms are being filled by residents and submitted to the nearest police stations. The information is being used to build a database and is likely to be a tool for better policing.

The forms are distributed in all police stations and are also available online at

Apart from owned and rented households, a third category of residents who neither own a house nor reside in rented households in the city has also been identified in the house listing census.

This category constitutes mostly of a microscopic minority of workers who are given free accommodation by business establishments. Only 1.6 per cent of households in Chennai district have been included in this category by the Directorate of Census Operations.

Tiruvallur district has 1.1 per cent and Kancheepuram has 1.2 per cent of such households.