Krishna Velupillai and Swahilya
“It’s a conservative city, many are unlikely to rent a house to single women”
CHENNAI: A two-line advertisement in a neighbourhood newspaper about a house available for rent is enough to receive a swarm of calls less than half an hour after the paper is out.
Many of the prospective tenants calling in are bachelors, students and working women. Often the call is only a small part of a long and tiresome process of trying to find a rented place. Being bachelors or single women, these people are often rejected purely on the basis of their being single.
“Why cannot they let a house to a bachelor,” asks a web designer flinging his hands in despair when the ideal home he wanted was refused just because he was a bachelor. A single woman who rode down all the streets of Nungambakkam was frustrated to the point of tears when she was refused a house to live in, just because she was not a “family person.”
A young broadcast journalist said the fact that she was a female and in the media field was enough for many a house owner to turn down her request. “This city is quite conservative; so many people are unlikely to give you a house if you’re a single woman. Maybe if one had a few female friends it would be easier to get a place and share, but as a single woman it’s very difficult.”
Women are also faced with several questions regarding their habits when they go to see a house. “What is your caste,” is the first question followed by a question about eating habits. A strict ‘no’ is the reply to non-vegetarians.”
Even if a woman is lucky enough to find a place, a thousand restrictions are then imposed. “My landlord does not even like me putting out my laundry. Plus, I cannot throw any parties or bring male friends. Even if I get dropped home by a man, I get disapproving looks,” the young journalist said.
Mathew Sunil, an IT professional, lives in a mansion in Triplicane; a place also known as bachelors’ paradise. “A mansion is more convenient for me than a house because it works out much cheaper. I would like the privacy of a house but the hassle of trying to find one is too much. Bachelors have a bad reputation of not taking care of the place. They are also thought of as unruly, prone to playing loud music and generally not desirable tenants.”
With the growing IT industry the number of young people coming into the city is growing, yet according to Mr. Sunil, finding a house is a problem each and everyone new to the city faces.
“I would like to have my own place so that I can cook my own food and have some privacy, but because I’m alone I cannot afford a house, nor is anyone willing to give me one. Triplicane is an accessible and cheap area. Houses for about Rs. 3,000 which is the budget for most single people, are available only in far-off areas such as St. Thomas Mount and places off Kathipara junction,” he said.
Manoj Kumar, working with Sutherland, was looking for a house to stay along with his brother and two friends. “Even if houses are available, there are many restrictions. Sometimes we can approach the owners only through brokers and we end up having to pay a hefty sum as commission.” In independent houses, owners sometimes insist that we get back by 10 p.m. and if we come late, they do not give the keys. “I wish we were treated like human beings,” said an agitated Manoj.