Following the Velachery encounter, house owners are reluctant to let single men in
It was a harrowing weekend for Senthil Kumar searching for a house in and around Velachery. After residing in an independent house in Dhandeeswaram for over a year, the owner has asked him and his three roommates to vacate the place before the end of April. “We were told that the owner wants to rent it to a family now,” says Senthil, who works with a software firm in Guindy. The search for another rental accommodation even 10 km away did not fetch them any luck. To add to the disappointment was to answer questions from brokers. “I got the present accommodation through a broker, but now even they are reluctant to find bachelors a place. If one of the roomies happens to be from north India, it gets even more difficult,” he adds.
This is not an isolated case in the city that has always had restrictions about renting out homes to bachelors and single women, but such examples seem to be increasing after the police encounter in Velachery. The city police’s enumeration drive of tenants and their details is making some owners and residents’ welfare associations follow a more cautious approach.
The Federation of Velachery Welfare Association (East) has asked its members to not let out houses to “unknown bachelors”, especially to students and those hailing from north India. It has 20 residents’ welfare associations as members. “We had a meeting on the last Sunday of February where each of the association members was asked to start pressurising owners in the locality to discourage bachelors,” says S. Kumara Raja, secretary of the Federation. After three months, it also plans to review the decision taken.
According to Raja, the police too have increasingly started keeping a tab. He says it has also asked its members to insist on an agreement while admitting a new tenant. “Much of the concern about safety in certain localities is because some owners hardly interact with the tenant and leave it to the broker,” he says.
In most apartment associations, the bye-laws talk about not letting out home to bachelors but they are not stringently followed. Letting out a place is an owner’s discretion and in an apartment complex of over 100 flats, imposing such restriction is not possible.
“We have flats in our complex let out to single women, bachelors and corporate sector. As long as the owner knows the background details of his tenant and trusts him, there should not be such restrictions imposed,” feels Sree Vidya Anand, owner of an apartment complex in Thoraipakkam.
With the city expanding, residents feel finding a tenant is a challenge and the larger concern for the landlord is to find a tenant who shells out higher rent, even if it comes from a group of bachelors.
While the issue of who to let out might have risen out of a stray incident, tenants have little to come their aid. As S. Senthil Kumar, secretary of Construction Industry Development Council, says, “We have Rent Control Act and Tenant Protection Act but no guidelines that protect the interest of the tenant. They are totally at the mercy of the landlords.”