Bengaluru’s IT tenants’ safety deposits unsafe in house owners’ hands
BENGALURU: Harish (name changed on request) is a young professional who started his IT career in Bengaluru. After months of househunting and a struggle to raise Rs 1 lakh to pay as security deposit, he moved into a house in Madiwala. When he quit his job and had to move out of the city , the house owner refused to return his deposit on time. Only after a year of waiting and several unpleasant confrontations later, did he manage to get some of his money back.
Bengaluru’s IT industry employs over 10 lakh people and the concentration of these companies in certain parts of the city has opened up a lucrative industry for property owners here, albeit at the cost of the tenants.
“People here own many houses and are intent on exploiting young employees who are desperate to find a house,” says Haynes Davis, member of ITEC, an IT employees’ welfare organisation.
It is a practice to deduct an ad hoc amount from the refundable deposit for sundry charges such as painting and replacing fixtures when the tenant vacates. However, this is not standardised and tenants often find themselves kept on a tight leash.
Biju George, a techie who recently vacated his house in Electronics City , lost Rs 30,000 from his deposit, even though he had the house painted before vacating. “The landlord said I didn’t use a specific brand of paint and held back the money ,” Biju said, adding “I couldn’t do anything.” There is no standardised model for a rental agreement in the state and the dated Karnataka Rent Act,1999, is hardly enforced.
The common practice is for owners to charge a refundable deposit equal to 10 months’ rent. Vinay Kumar, an IT professional who founded property reviews website Flatgradings.com, started a petition on Change.org last year to raise the issue. In just a week, the petition got 11,000 supporters. But it soon died down. “It is a problem that everybody knows about but don’t know how to tackle,” said Kumar.
Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO Residential Services, JLL India, believes that the answer lies in the Draft Tenancy Law, 2015. When passed, the regulation will remove ambiguities that exist in tenancy practices, benefitting both the tenant and the landlord. “To be protected by the civil laws, it is important to get the lease date registered after paying a stamp fee with the regional authorities,” he says, pointing out that people in this segment often do not have the time and the bandwidth to register their contracts and take it up in court in case of a disagreement.