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: