Bengaluru woman starts online petition demanding uniform rent laws across city
news Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 05:30
When Sonakshi Nandy, a communication specialist in Bengaluru, moved to a rented apartment last year, her landlord asked for ten months rent as security deposit. “I had just graduated and begun working then and since the deposit amount was huge, I was forced to borrow the money from my parents,” says Nandy. A ten-month security deposit, though considered exorbitant by many, is a common norm followed across the city. Tenants sometimes do not have any option but to oblige to pay the sum. It is to protest against the high security deposit demanded by house owners across the city, that Rachelle Chandran, a Bengaluru writer, launched an online petition last month. Through her petition, Chandran demands the implementation of uniform rent laws across Bengaluru for security deposit. “I have lived in several rented houses here and each time I was asked to pay ten months rent as deposit which is ridiculously high. Not just that, when you leave the house, the full amount is not returned to you. Owners often deduct money citing random maintenance costs and return less than half the amount,” Chandran tells The News Minute.“This also happened to me, and to people I know, and I could do nothing about it, like filing a complaint against the owner,” she adds. In her petition, Chandran mentions the Model Tenancy Act 2011, a proposed act by the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, which recommends a set of rules “to balance the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants” along with several other clauses meant to protect the interest of tenants. One of the suggestions mentioned in the draft legislation is that “it shall be unlawful to charge a security deposit in excess of three times the monthly rent.” Chandran also states in her petition the need for a "fast-track rent tribunal" to solve issues between tenants and house owners, and to be made available a provision to file an FIR in case of money fraud. Soon after she started the petition, Chandran says she sent an email to the CM on his id, that she got on the official government website, along with also tweeting to him. “The email bounced back because the id seems to be a wrong one and no one from his office ever responded to my messages,” she says. However, close to 3,000 people have signed the petition and scores have also voiced their anguish over the existing deposit system which needs to be regulated and why they support the petition. “I m signing because I m tired of paying lakhs n lakhs of rupees as deposit n in return I get back peanuts,” Zafiyah Rahman wrote on the petition’s page. Kausick Dutta said: “I had faced issues with my previous landlord when vacating the house. I was charged exorbitantly for damages such as making the walls water proof.” Rajshree Mukherjee shares a rented apartment with three other friends in the city. For her it was relatively better when their landowner asked for a security deposit of Rs 80,000 on a rent of Rs 14,500. “But this year we complete one year in this flat, and there will be a five per cent increase in the rent,” rues Mukherjee who recently graduated and has joined a communications organisation.    Although the petition got the highest traction during its initial week, Chandran is patient enough to wait for more people to support the cause eventually. “I am not looking for any specific number of signatures. It is okay if it takes long to get more signatures, as long as the cause, which a lot of people believe in genuinely, gets the right attention,” Chandran signs off.
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