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Landlady 101

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Finding the perfect home to live in can prove to be quite a task, especially in an overcrowded city like Mumbai. But, did you know that being a landlady is as hard as being a tenant? The Woman’s World Team asked a few landladies about their experiences to bring you an effective guide on renting out your property

When it comes to property in Mumbai, most discussions revolve around how difficult it is to find  a home. But, no one really talks about the other side, as everyone assumes that with the demand for housing in Mumbai being so high, renting must be as easy as counting to 1, 2, 3! However, there are also several challenges that you need to overcome. And, this is especially true if you’re a woman who’s looking to rent her home out — it’s unfortunate, but coming across people who don’t take you seriously and those who think that they can take advantage of you is an ugly reality that you may face. So, we’re bringing you the complete guide to being a landlady in the city. From what documents you need to helpful insights from landladies themselves, we’ve got you covered.  

BEFORE YOU RENT
Leasing out your home in Mumbai isn’t a very complicated process and it’s rare to find yourself in a situation where you need legal recourse. But, that being said, there are always exceptions which you can avoid if you’re diligent enough. One of the easiest ways to do this is by contacting a lawyer to draft, or at least read through your leave and licence agreement. These agreements are pretty standard and usually, property brokers can help you sort out your rental documents. However, hiring a lawyer won’t cost you much, especially compared to the one-month’s rent that you will be paying as brokerage, and will ensure that the agreement is legally airtight and contains all the clauses you need including those for monthly rent agreements, monetary compensation in case of damages and time to vacate the premises. Advocate Ajay Sethi tells us that the law that you need to be aware of is the Maharashtra Rent Control Act (1999). The law explains your obligations (with regards to the maintenance of your home) as well as the hike in rent that you’re permitted to ask of your tenant (4% per year). Apart from that, the process is quite straightforward. 

Important document you will need
Ajay says that if you’re renting out your house, the most important documents that you’ll need are an NOC from your society management and a leave and licence agreement. Another important factor to keep in mind is that you need to have rental consent forms from all the owners of the property (in case the ownership of your property is shared between different parties). Before renting out your home, you will also need identity proof from the soon-to-be tenant (s), but Ajay also advises that you check whether the society has any restrictions about renting out your home.

CHECKING UP
Weekly checkups may not be sensible, especially if your rented out property is located somewhere far away from where you live. And, it goes without saying that even though it is your property, you can’t simply barge in to someone’s home once it has been rented out.

  • Make sure that you add a clause into your lease, clearly stating how often you can visit your property — it should ideally be at least once or twice every month. “The first and foremost requirement is to make a certified legal agreement. Make sure that the agreement contains all the clauses you require such as when the landlady or her representative can visit the house. The details should be very specific and should be made by a lawyer,” says Ketayun Madon, a landlady from Grant Road.
     
  • However, it’s also important for a landlady to check up on her property during emergencies. For example, you can (and should) visit when there is any work being done to check up on it.
     
  • As a landlady, you need to alert your tenants 24 hours before your visit. Surprise visits are an invasion of privacy and are a violation on your part.

PREPPING-UP YOUR HOUSE
Your tenants will be spending most of their time within the walls you offer them, and will definitely care about the way it is presented to them. So, the biggest selling point of your house inevitably becomes the way it looks. An aesthetically presented home can also help you get a higher rent. Shibani Jain, founder & CEO at Baaya Design says, “Redoing a house before giving it out on rent is essential in order to ensure a good tenant. Investing in its appearance will ensure a good price.” So, what do you need to do to make your house look well-presented to a prospective tenant? First, find out what kind of homes are in demand in the market. Try to understand the home décor trends that have been appealing to paying guests before you start to design your home.

Also, it’s equally important to know your target audience and design your house depending on their taste. If you’re looking for a group of youngsters, try giving your home an edge. On the other hand, for a family, a well-accommodative dining table and a big sofa set would work well.  “Repainting the walls with subtle or vibrant hues, depending on the age group of tenants that you are looking for, will give your house a more appealing look,” says Shibani.

Next, remember that your prospective tenant is probably looking at other houses in the same locality. So, try doing your interiors in a way that adds a unique, novel touch to your home. “You need to add a distinctive touch to your house so that it stands out from other homes. You can do this by adding a painting or an art mural that will bring in an aesthetic look and add elegance,” Shibani adds.

And, imagine what a jackpot it is for any tenant to find a beautiful home that doesn’t need much maintenance! So, it’s a smart move to pick interiors that are not more intricate or complex than required. “Apart from the walls, the flooring too needs to be worked on too. So, make sure that the floor is smooth enough to be cleaned easily. It should also be comfortable enough to sit on,” Shibani explains.

POLICE NOC
Advocate Ajay Sethi tells us that while a police NOC was earlier essential while renting out your home (this involved a verification process), the law has been relaxed a little. Now, you merely have to intimate the local police station that you intend to rent out your flat. Ajay recommends enclosing a copy of your leave and licence agreement in this intimation. This could help you avoid any potential problems in the future.

WHAT LANDLADIES SHOULDN’T DO
You may consider your rental property as a home that you can take back or drop in at any time. However, just as you want a tenant to respect your rights as a landlady, there some rules that you must keep in mind when you rent out your property.

  • Stuti Sharma, a social media manager considers it an invasion of her privacy when the owner of her rented property drops in anytime she wishes to. “Letting your tenant in on your plans to visit signifies that your landlord/ landlady respects your space and privacy,” says Stuti. And, as a landlady, Ketayun agrees with her. “Once you’ve rented out a property, the landlady has no right to interfere — apart from what is mentioned in the agreement. People really dislike it when their landlady visits the house every week. Obviously, no one wants something like that to be in the agreement either — it’s clearly an invasion of privacy.”
     
  • Moreover, if the notice period specifies two months, it isn’t nice of you to ask your tenants to vacate the house in 10 days. Sad as this may be, it’s often the case with most home owners in the city.
     
  • Shikha Jain, an accountant, also thinks that it’s an invasion of privacy, when landlords/ landladies ask watchmen to keep an eye on the tenants. “I used to live in an apartment where the landlady asked the building security guard to keep an eye on us. It was such a hassle for guests who used to drop in at our place!” she explains.

RENTING OUT TO MEN

  • It’s  important to do a background check of your tenants. 49-year-old landlady Usha Pathak, says, “I rented out my house 11 years ago. The first thing everybody warned me about was not to lease it to bachelors; they said it wasn’t safe. And, as a woman, I understood why. This is why I only rent my home to families. It’s much safer for me.”
     
  • One of the best ways to ensure safety is to rent out your home to people you know through a friend or a family member — this applies whether it’s a group of male tenants or a family.
     
  • Another point to remember is to ensure that they fill out a police registration form. Make sure to keep a copy of this with you. Usha explains, “I know a woman who once rented out her flat to a group of bachelors. They were easy-going, but her husband made them fill police registration forms. While they didn’t cause any problems, I think a good move because it ensures your safety.”
     
  • List down rules you expect them to follow and be assertive about them.
     
  • Supervise how efficiently they are adhering to your rules with regular visits.

RENTING WITHOUT A BROKER

  • There are several websites such as 99acres.com, OLX.in, Makaan.com and Quikr.com, which will help you find tenants to rent property to without a broker.
     
  • If this doesn’t work out, the word of mouth method is the oldest and most effective way to find tenants.
     
  • You can also look for tenants on social media and ask friends and family members to share your posts. Not only will this be easy, but you will find someone who can vouch for the credibility of the potential tenant who approaches you.

CHALLENGES YOU WILL FACE WHILE RENTING OUT IN MUMBAI
The biggest problem faced by women is usually not taken seriously here. The whole question of safety is, obviously, quite an issue. Remember that you will have to run around a lot. Sometimes, tenants are laid-back and will expect you to do everything. Make sure to do a thorough background check on your tenants. Not all tenants are trustworthy. Usha Pathak tells us, “Sometimes, renting houses to families is also not as foolproof as it appears to be. They can’t be completely trusted either. Whenever I am approached by a family, I make sure you do a background check and be as straightforward as possible — sugar-coating works. You don’t want people to take undue advantage of you.” She doesn’t trust people easily, saying, “People aren’t as simple as you think they are.”

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