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Fleece street: one loo, 25 girls

Drishti Ahuja, a second year commerce student from Sri Venkateswara College, recently moved out of her paying guest accommodation in Satya Niketan because she had to share one toilet with 25 girls. Paying guest digs are often crammed and have no health checks or proper facilities, reports Jeevan Prakash Sharma.

education Updated: Jul 06, 2012 14:09 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma

Drishti Ahuja, a second year commerce student from Sri Venkateswara College, recently moved out of her paying guest accommodation in Satya Niketan because she had to share one toilet with 25 girls. Rashmi Jain got jaundice because of the contaminated water supply in her PG apartment. Both the girls paid huge rentals.

Many owners of PG rooms being run in various parts of the Capital, such as Satya Niketan and Laxmi Nagar, are not only fleecing students by charging them high rent, they’re also putting their health at risk by providing poor food, lodging and sanitation.

Many students feel that lack of adequate checks and regulations are encouraging landlords to charge astronomical rentals without providing proper facilities. “Since PGs are being treated as rented accommodation, there is no authority to check whether the facilities they are charging for are in place,” says Ahuja.

Though the Delhi Master Plan 2021 allows hostels and guest houses to be run in residential areas, it is silent on the matter of PG accommodation, which is treated merely as “room given on rent.”

The issue came under litigation in 2009 when BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd charged electricity consumption of a PG accommodation in south Delhi for non-domestic-use.. The PG owner filed a case in the Delhi High Court, pleading that the demand raised by BSES be quashed. Opposing the argument that favoured PG rentals as commercial ventures, he said his lodgings were rented on a month to month basis and “the accommodation is not like a guest house where people come to stay just for a day or two.”

The petitioner argued that students were like tenants. The premises were not for flying visits of a short or casual nature. “It’s an abode which is used exclusively as a private residential unit for a sufficiently continued period,” he said. The Delhi Health Department, the petitioner added, had informed him that the stand taken by the administration was that since PG accommodation was not covered under the Master Plan, there was status quo over its usage –- that it shouldcontinue (to be categorised) as domestic.

Many legal experts view PG rentals as commercial, even though owners of these facilities do not sign a rent or lease deed with the tenants, who also do not enjoy any legal rights as tenants.

DK Garg, a Supreme Court lawyer, says: “One can stay in a guest house for a month and pay on a monthly basis but the guest house can’t claim relief merely on that ground. Those who stay in PG accommodation do not enjoy any rights as lease-holders or tenants.”

Where do you stand legally and the best way out...
* Remember, owners of PG facilities do not sign a rent or lease deed with their ‘tenants.’ In case as a tenant you have any legal problems with your landlord, you will not have a strong case in court
* Owners of paying guest accommodation also do not accept cheques from their tenants because that would become ‘proof’ of the transaction – cheques would also mean that income can be taxed
* In case you are compelled to go in for PG accommodation, check the rooms you are hiring to ensure that the landlord is promising you what he can deliver
* Ensure you have access to clean water, check the kitchens to see how food is cooked