Raj Gogoi made his way from Assam to Delhi to seek admission in Delhi University’s (DU) Ramjas College a year ago. Yet, Gogoi did not anticipate the harrowing experience that was soon to follow.
As he searched the length and breadth of the varsity campus and other surrounding areas for accommodation, he was either turned away or asked for an exorbitant amount as rent — nearly twice the normal charge.
“I had to pay Rs. 11,500 for a room that was available for Rs. 6,500 to students from this part of the country. I found this accommodation in the Vijay Nagar area after searching for nearly one month,” he said
The story is the same for thousands of students from the Northeast who flock to DU each year. While the North Eastern Women’s Hostel partially took care of accommodation needs for women students of the Northeast, no arrangement was made for men.
“Landlords ask for high rents. They don’t even refund our security deposit. The property dealers, too, charge very high rates. The university needs to provide some alternative accommodation facility for boys too. Unlike other students, we can’t go home frequently during holidays and accommodation is very important,” said IK Salam, a student of Kirori Mal College.
Yet, even if students from the Northeast manage to find accommodation, their troubles are not over. Students said that because there was no rent-control or regulation in place, landlords charged whatever they pleased.
“The biggest problem we face is finding a landlord who will give us a rent agreement. There are a number of times when we need this document but the landlords are just not ready to part with it. On top of that, we aren’t allowed to cook what we want even after paying higher than usual prices,” said Timothy Chongthu, whose parents moved to Delhi from Manipur in 1980s.
However, house owners claimed that most of their experiences of renting out houses to students from the Northeast had turned sour after several episodes.
“I had rented out my flat once to three boys from Assam. They got into drunken brawls often and smoked and drank in the house. The police had come and hauled me up for misconduct in my building. Since then, I have not rented out my property to such students,” said Raj Mehta, who lets out rooms to students in the Vijay Nagar area.