Why can’t I find a place to stay?

Can a society refuse home-owners to lease out their property? It is known that the residential sector in our country charts out their own rule book which is more or less along the rules laid down by the Housing Society Act or Co-operative Society Act. These rules were laid down to promote smooth and friction-less functioning of the housing members and is more or less the same for every state. However, many individuals face a common problem of denial of tenancy.

Off-course, an individual or a group can be denied tenancy on legal grounds. These could include some proven criminal record, inadequate income, false information, unverified police clearance, anti-social behaviour and prior eviction.

But question any single, working man or woman and all of them will share a common troubling experience of finding a leased accommodation; shockingly more in metros like Mumbai and Bangalore. “Being a single tenant is like a curse these days!” as cited by many. Numerous societies disallow property owners to lease out their place to singles or a group of bachelors claiming that they will spoil the “peace” and “harmony” of other residents. Not only the authorities but even other residing members agree to this. Also, bachelors tend to relocate more quickly, which hampers with the stable income.

Other reasons stated are those individuals having pets. Some believe pets will dirty their building and also harm small children. Further, people with certain meal preferences have also been denied lease. The most worrisome reason of all is denial based on religion and caste. Here the question arises of that one individual or the group of society authorities who frame these rules, or whether the preferences of every other residing member is taken into consideration.

These are not the only hurdles for singles seeking for a home. Other woes include those of exorbitant rents, huge security deposits, privacy issues, eviction scare and the general non-acceptance by the society as a whole.

Can the housing society overrule the flat owner? As mentioned earlier, certain by-laws of the society are framed under the Co-operative Societies Act. These by-laws provide specific guidelines to be registered with the municipal corporations, its governance structures, common area maintenance rights, repair and renovation work, accounting practices, redevelopment rights and various other covenants related to leasing/ purchasing a house within the society. A double-edged sword is that this Act also offers a degree of flexibility to societies to add regulations of their own. For example, certain societies enforce the rule that tenants aren’t allowed to park inside the society premises.

That is why, although the property owner has legal rights to lease out his property, an individual society is legally empowered to deny tenancy based on their by-laws.

Yes, these fringe by-laws can be challenged if a tenant feels a housing society has been unfair in any aspect. He or she can file a police complaint against it, claiming infringement of his rights as a citizen. Every individual has a right to decide where to live and cannot be questioned based on his sex, caste, religion, eating habits and marital status.