Tenant woes: Delhi-NCR single working professionals vs RWAs and landlords
After a recent incident in Gurgaon, single professionals living in rented flats in Delhi-NCR share nuances of moral policing by their landlords and Resident Welfare Associations.delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2017 18:44 IST
Last Friday, when a male friend of a tenant living in Gurgaon’s Essel Tower approached his friend’s flat, he was stopped by the society’s Residents Welfare Association (RWA). “You take hourly rates”, ”Why don’t you go to a hotel?” — were some of the questions the visitors had to confront. And, soon a ruckus broke out that led to the RWA issuing a backdate (August 1, 2017) notice — that bans male visitors at flats of female tenants, and vice versa.
Soam, a Delhi-resident involved in the brawl, recalls, “I was dropping my female friend’s brother at the Towers at around 10pm, and had planned to pick up my friend later. But, the guard started shouting, ‘Yeh ladki ke flat mein jaa rahe hain. Bhai-wai koi nahi hai yeh. Guys can’t visit girls.’ I was getting out of the car to talk and suddenly one of the guards pushed my car door saying ‘gaadi hatao’. That’s when I yelled saying you can’t touch the car. I told my friends waiting upstairs that some security people here are saying that guys can’t visit girls and vice-versa.”
Some others were also waiting in the society premises to meet their friends, and objected to this behaviour of the RWA that behaved like moral police.“During the ruckus, elders of the society were pushing people away; shouting at them saying that they will not allow ‘mixing of boys and girls’. They said that we’re compromising on our culture, and called us as prostitutes,” says Bani Tripathi*, a resident of the society.
The new rules of the society, as mentioned in the notice put up in the society, mention that visitors other than immediate family members (blood relations) of the occupants (tenancy excluding families) are not allowed after 2200 hours and before 0800 hours (and not allowed to stay overnight and all rooms in a flat (in case of tenancy excluding families) should be occupied by same gender only.
The tenants have written an open letter stating their unwillingness to agree to the said rules, which has made the RWA schedule a meeting in near future. Tripathi says that stating security as a reason, the society RWA is trying to curtail their freedom: “We never thought something like this could happen in our court (Pilot Court), where most of the flats are occupied by youngsters. Some owners are against the rules and are trying to convince the RWA,” adds Tripathi.
SP Singh, spokesperson, from the Essel Towers RWA, says, “I see strangers coming and going as if they are checking in a hotel. If I don’t allow them, I’m disturbing their aazadi (freedom). If they have the right to create noise, I’ve the right to stop them! Just follow the rules; follow what a majority of societies want tenants to do. We just want discipline in the society, and as per government regulation, every tenant and servant must be identified via police verification. This hasn’t been done either. Now, we’ll see to it that everyone has an identity card [to enter the society]. How can people run illegal guest houses and not follow rules?”
Tenants, who have faced difficulties in finding a flat in the city, are worried about facing such attitudes from RWAs. “Being single was more difficult than being in a relationship. I spent about 20 days looking for a flat. Some refused upfront because I’m not married,” says, Veerti Sharma*, a corporate from Princeton Estate, Gurgaon.
Even the religious identity of tenants plays a role in finding a rented flat. “When I was looking for a flat, initially I couldn’t find one. I realised they had a problem with me being a Muslim. They wouldn’t tell me this openly, but you tend to figure out the problem after a series of rejections,” says Bumra Qazi*, a corporate, who lives in Greater Kailash.
Reiterating the thought, a Delhi-based advertising professional, Seshadri Mitra, says, “I shifted out of a flat at a society in South Delhi’s Saket, because the landlady had problem with my girl friends visiting. Fortunately, now I’m living in a different house, and there are no such problems now.”
*Names changed on request
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