CHENNAI: If you’re a single woman, finding a job may be easier than finding a house. To find a landlord willing to rent his place to 20-something single girls or spinsters is not a piece of cake in Chennai. Komal Goyal, a Delhi-based HR recruiter, admits having looked at seven flats before finding a comfortable place, and most importantly, one with a lenient landlord.
“I nearly lost hope of finding a house. Most owners either didn’t want anything to do with a spinster or insisted on an 8 pm curfew!” recalls a frustrated Komal. Most prospective young tenants rather stay at a hostel or opt for a PG, just to be free from restrictions. They search for places with minimal interference from landlords, but not all are lucky.
While there are broad-minded landlords, others tend to be stricter in terms of who the tenants are and the kind of lifestyles they lead. The reasons for this range from needing to keep boys at bay, and having to take extra security measures to attending late night calls from parents asking of their daughter’s whereabouts.
And the popular notion that women clean up better than men doesn’t help either. One would think that a landlord would prefer renting his house out to women than to men, since women tend to keep their homes neater and they are not as noisy as the average bachelor. But that is not true.
“Landlords do not want to rent out their place to young girls. They are unbelievably messier than men. Even the maid herself gave up cleaning the flat the last time,” said S Jayadeva, a flat broker when asked whether there was a place to rent out for two college girls.
In their defence, the girls tell us they promised to keep the place spick and span. “But he looked at us with almost disbelieving eyes when we said this. We can’t blame him, everybody hoping to be a tenant puts out this line. With men, the only problem is loud music and late night parties,” one of them recalls.
The concern regarding female tenants doesn’t end there. Somasundar Paul, who owns a 2BHK flat in Choolaimedu, claims that with women tenants, security is the major problem. “I had told them to be home by at least 10 pm. They do come later than that, but not always,” says Paul.
Homeowners tend to be more careful and observant, keeping an eye on the timings to make sure that the girls are safe. Though the landlords do not wish to interfere in the private lives of young women, some say it seems necessary to know about their whereabouts since they would be held accountable for the tenant’s safety. Hence, some landlords deny places to women to avoid such uncomfortable situations.
Another claim is that women are more troublesome than men. They always happen to find some fault in the house. M Sadashivaya who owns a 2BHK in Euro Apartments, Madambakkam says, “I receive a call every couple of days from them (girls). Either the tap is broken, tubelight has blacked out, there is a dysfunctional switch or they want a new maid because the old one interfered too much in their lives. Men create no such problem. They solve the little petty troubles they face.”
With landlords finding new reasons to avoid female tenants, young women from other cities are finding it difficult to get a house in the city. Some even say it has turned out to be harder than getting a job, or getting admission in a reputed college. As if things are not difficult enough already, it looks like single women may have to find a house first before agreeing to a job in a new city.