Single mothers on a house hunt

Urmila Chanam
Posted October 13, 2020 from India

Note: This article was published in my column " Half the sky" on Deccan Herald on 11 October 2020

In a male-dominated real estate sector, how do single women and single mothers cope with the process of looking for a house on rent/lease?  Looking for a house may seem easy for some who either take the more traditional method of engaging brokers or go through friends and of late, through websites that narrow down the list to your preferred area. But when it comes to housing single women and single mothers, it is a different kind of challenge to find a home. Brokers, who are by far only men, are accustomed to seeing only men making housing and financial decisions and often nurse discrimination against single women and single moms.

House owners too are very particular about the marital status of their prospective tenant if they live all by themselves. That can be demeaning for women who need to explain the reason behind their divorce, the cause of death of a spouse, explaining their lifestyle in terms of guests who frequent their homes, timings of going out and returning, and their profession just for the sake of a house. As per a UN Women’s report on the ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020’, there are 13 million households led by single moms in India which forms 4.5% of all Indian households. Even though women are getting an education, earning their livelihood and are financially independent, social taboos against single mothers remain unchanged not sparing them of prejudices, misconceptions and judgements — grounds on which many times housing of their choice is being denied to them.  Here are some tips for single women/single moms for finding a dream house on rent/lease:

  • Disclose marital status and family background to broker/house owner only after seeing and approving the house.
  • Finding a house through broker agencies is much safer than website portals.
  • There are several Facebook communities for renting a house in Bengaluru which offer user feedback too.
  • Take a friend along at the time of visiting broker firms or houses. Presence of a male friend or relative gets you through like a breeze.
  • Make property visits during the day time.
  • Avoid sharing WhatsApp number with brokers for communication. Nobody needs to be in your private online space and have access to your pictures, status updates and locations.
  • Talk to shopkeepers or neighbours in the locality to get an idea about the background of the owner in case you have found the house on a website portal.

Link to the article: 

https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-articulations/t...

 

Comments 16

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Kika Katchunga
Oct 14
Oct 14

Hello my sister,
thank you for sharing with us the problem that these single women face, it is really horrible to hear that; i pray to god that he can help these single woman easily find their home without much complication

Urmila Chanam
Oct 14
Oct 14

Dearest Kika Katchunga,
The discrimination of divorced, widow, unwed mothers, single mothers are rampant in India but financial independence and economic stability can play a significant role to enable women to overcome these barriers. Its so important for women to have a sound well paying vocation. Thank you sister for reading and your prayer to God for help to these women who are suffering.
Much love,
Urmila Chanam

Beth Lacey
Oct 14
Oct 14

Urmila, this is such great advice for all single women!

Urmila Chanam
Oct 14
Oct 14

Dearest sister Beth,
Let us share our tips so none of us make the same mistakes :) :) World Pulse is the best platform for women to match notes.
Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam

Karinvk
Oct 14
Oct 14

Hi, Urmilla! I faced these same challenges so long ago. So many safety issues. Thanks for bringing the topic back into the light and conversations. Hugs

Urmila Chanam
Oct 14
Oct 14

Dearest Karinvk,
Oh sister, I am so sorry that you underwent the ordeal and so did I and much more! I am glad its all behind me and I wish I and others never have to go through them.
Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

JoOak
Oct 14
Oct 14

Dear Urmilla ,
I must thank you for this write up .
You have just painted a perfect picture of what I went through some months back trying to secure an apartment when I relocated to another state in my country.
The Estate agent ( brocker) after asking me many embarrassing and demeaning questions still had to take me to meet with the house owner who went on and on about by marital status why and how I became a single mom .
I felt so bad I had to get my elder brother to sign some papers and stand in as my guarantor .

There and then I just concluded , ' we still have a long way to go ' .

I couldn't back out because I know for certain I would still go through the same treatment in the hands of any other Estate agent or house owner . I just had to maintain my cool and least to get the space .

May God help us .

Love and hugs .

Urmila Chanam
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dearest sister JoOak,
We are fighting for empowerment of women and only looking at education, safety, health, jobs and the rising violence and crimes against women because even in these areas we can't say we have overcome the problem completely. We haven't had the space to discuss other problems like discrimination widows, divorced, unwed mothers, single mothers face and how it affects their social relationships. I hope you are settled in your new home sister. It is time for me to look for a new house and I already dread it.

Much love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Fanka
Oct 15
Oct 15

Hello dear,
Thanks for sharing. So many stereotype about single women out there.

Urmila Chanam
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dearest Fanka,
A single man is a catch, a single woman is a curse for many people who may be literate but the light of education has not touched them yet!
Love, Urmila Chanam, India

Caroline Bokwe
Oct 16
Oct 16

Hi Urmila, this was an interesting piece to read, and very rich information too. It is very sad that women who are capable enough to provide their needs are being discriminated against simply because of their marital status. It is time the world starts valueing human relationship over societal definition of "whats normal". Great piece.

Urmila Chanam
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dearest Caroline,
Thank you for your warm wishes. Reading them has given me immense joy, you know how much writers love to know if their words could connect to people in a meaningful way. And sister, I wrote about one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in India, Bangalore where people are educated, large percentage from a good economic level yet discrimination of single women is visible at the time of housing and other social interactions. This only suggests what the condition must be in rural parts of the country. No wonder the crime rates against women are alarming in India.

Thanks for reading and for reaching out.

Much love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Nini Mappo
Oct 17
Oct 17

Hello Urmila,
Good on you for looking out for single women/mums and providing such helpful tips on house hunting and safety. Discrimination really does take a lot of faces:/

Urmila Chanam
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dearest Nini,
You have said it beautifully; discrimination and its many manifestations and they all revolve around gender inequality. Thanks for reading, my sister. I hope we will fight back in every possible space and opportunity as per our own capacities.
Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam

Paulina Nayra
Oct 20
Oct 20

Dear Urmila,
This reminds me of one of the sisters here who have difficulty in finding a place of her own just because she is single. It is very much different in the Philippines. House owners and landladies prefer single women or single mom because they think that they can maintain the house or room better than those with children. As long as one can pay the rent on time, it doesn't matter whether one is single, widowed, divorced, separated or twice married and single again. :-)
Huggs.

Urmila Chanam
Oct 22
Oct 22

Dearest sister Paulina,
I am thrilled to learn that single women are the first choice in housing in one part of the world! It is unimaginable here in India but I am told that it is a different dynamics altogether when you buy a house. In that case, only money matters and marital status is thrown to the wind by brokers or sellers. Sister, I loved the categories you included :)
Much love and kisses from India,
Urmila Chanam