Rental blogs here say only south Indians are preferred, tenants tell Vasudha Venugopal

“Didn't we have something like this earlier too?” asks Nayan Gupta, an IT employee and a resident of Velachery who has been in the city for almost three years now. His response to the ‘tenant information form,' introduced by the Chennai Police recently, is one echoed by many residents of the city from North India who have many experiences to narrate.

In the past three years, Nayan has changed three houses and thanks to frequent on-site postings, transfers and change of offices, he has already had a dozen room mates. “Often, the deposit is in somebody's name and the new tenants pay him back and the cycle continues. It is difficult for the owner to keep track of all tenants,” he says.

However, the new system of landlords submitting details about their tenants, as part of the enumeration process of hundreds of tenants residing in the city, may actually change the way it works. Senior police officials say the response from both landlords and tenants has been good, and more steps are being planned to ensure the process is smooth. “We also have some Hindi-speaking people to render help,” says a senior police official.

“The idea is to keep track of all information about individuals so that we can know, from the discrepancies in their behaviour, if they have any agenda. Verification with the employer or the education institute will also follow,” he says.

Reactions differ and so do experiences. Hari Kumar Singh, an engineer from Uttar Pradesh, says, “Our house owner brought us the forms as soon as it was announced. He ensured all of us filled it up, and also collected photocopies of our IDs. It didn't matter much because these days all employers, men's hostels and even cyber cafes do that.”

However, IT employees say the form was the topic of discussion in many canteens. “Not many talk about it, but a few were very upset because the owner asked for details only from specific people,” says Aniket Thomas, a resident of Guduvanchery.

There are other stakeholders too. For instance, P. Balagopal, a real estate broker in Mylapore, is in charge of seven apartments that he lets out to “IT people'.

“The owners are all settled abroad but have nominated power agents to sign the rental agreement. I take care of the rest of the procedures, including mailing the profiles of the people to the owner and transferring the rent. All that will get difficult now,” he says.

And anyway, it is not at all easy getting a house here on rent, especially in the 'core' areas – T.Nagar, Mylapore, Adyar and Alwarpet - of the city, as compared to the outskirts, say many youngsters.

Many rental blogs here specify ‘only south Indians preferred' and many building associations too insist on having families alone. “Families are charged at least 10 per cent less as rent, but many house owners prefer them over bachelors,” says R. Pachamuthu, a broker.

The usual restrictions imposed by house owners include those on cooking non-vegetarian food, long-duration visits by family or friends, and loud music. Surprise checks by owners are also part of the package, says Vinay Parasher, an IT employee from Uttar Pradesh.

But, in some areas, they seem to be the preferred lot such as on Old Mahabalipuram Road where the ‘PG system of renting,' prevails, tenants pay individually for the room they occupy, says Devang Rana.

“I pay Rs.10,000 for my room, with an AC and Wi-fi facility. There are eight of us who stay in six rooms (two 3-bhk houses modified to be one unit). Some who share rooms, pay less,” he says.

Devang, who is from Bihar, is yet to get any notification from his landlord, but hopes it is not very intrusive.

“Right from communicating with people to adjusting to the climate, there are many problems we face. And, we are here to work for only for a few years. Very few of us want to settle down here,” Devang says.

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