Sun, Feb 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Millions of Indian homes lie empty despite demand

Thomson Reuters Foundation, MUMBAI

Tens of thousands of people migrating to Indian cities each day cannot find adequate housing, as rental markets shrink despite millions of homes remaining vacant, government data shows.

The share of rental housing in cities has fallen by nearly half over the past five decades, according to the government’s annual economic survey released this week.

Rent control, unclear property rights and a focus on building homes for ownership rather than renting are at the root of the problem, it said.

“Policies related to housing need to recognize that India has an increasingly fluid population [and] that across the income spectrum, rental housing is an important foothold into a city for new arrivals,” the survey said.

A quarter of India’s urban population lives in informal housing, including slums, due to the critical shortage of affordable accommodation, social consultancy firm FSG said.

A government plan to provide housing for all by 2022 is meant to create 20 million new urban housing units and 30 million rural homes. However, most states are behind target and analysts say the program will not solve homelessness.

Finalizing the national urban rental housing policy might help resolve the issue, as the draft offers more protection from hostile tenants and gives them more incentive to rent, ANAROCK Property Consultants chairman Anuj Puri said.

“The lack of a clear regulatory framework has resulted in many house owners preferring to keep their houses vacant rather than renting them out,” Puri said.

The share of rental housing in Indian cities declined from 54 percent in 1961 to 28 percent in 2011, according to the economic survey.

At the same time, the number of vacant homes in cities rose from 6.5 million in 2001 to 11.1 million in 2011. Vacant houses make up more than 12 percent of total urban housing stock.

The financial hub of Mumbai has nearly half a million vacant homes, survey data show.

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