In what was termed a 'peak Bengaluru moment' by social media users, a spectator at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium during an IPL match was seen holding a poster with a unique message. It read, "Looking for 2 BHK in Indiranagar."
Later identified as Atin Bose, he took to Twitter to share the photo and say, "Could've asked Kolhi to marry us, but right now, priorities"
While carrying the poster made for great viral social media content, it also pointed to the desperation of renters in Bengaluru which has seen rents shoot up over 20% in recent months.
Back in 2020, Bengaluru — a city with many migrants from different parts of the country, saw most of the rental properties empty as people moved back to their places amid work-from-home and job losses due to COVID-19. There were no competitive house-hunting chases, and rental prices fell as landlords waited for the situation to improve. As a sense of ‘normalcy’ returned to people’s lives in 2022, the housing demand in Bengaluru started to surge as well. Amid fierce competition and high prices, finding a place to live in Bengaluru soon became an uphill battle. Bose's post is a stark reminder that house hunting in Silicon Valley is a long haul.
“An Apartment Is What I Really Need Right Now”
Bose, a product designer who has been searching for a 2 BHK in Indiranagar for more than two months now, told BOOM that despite not being a huge cricket fan, he along with his friend managed to get the tickets for the match and decided to utilise the platform in their own way. “I knew this year the IPL was getting a lot of eyes and attention. If I utilise this platform well it could catapult into something.”
Posters carried by spectators during cricket matches have always attracted attention. Television channels are known to zoom in on a poster that may ask a cricketer to get married, or one that carries a funny message. Bose utilised this to deal with his biggest priority for the moment — finding a house.
Despite Bose’s tweet going viral, he wasn't able to find a place at the time BOOM spoke to him. “I am still on the lookout. There were instances where people redirected me to links of brokers or people who have found an apartment. But I still haven't found anything concrete,” Bose said last week.
Rental Rates: Then and Now
According to Bose, even before COVID, in a high-demand area like Indiranagar, it was tough to find a place to rent. However, after the pandemic, it has become furthermore difficult. “Before COVID, I was living with two other people in a 3 BHK and was paying around Rs 34,000. I can assure you that the same apartment would now be available for double the rent, if not more,” he added.
“Landlords are hiking the prices without any prior notice. Either you match it, or you move out. The authorities in Bangalore really need to take this up and there needs to be an equilibrium where there is some ease for tenants,” Bose further said.
Karthik, who works in corporate communications came to Bengaluru for the first time in 2004 and used to stay with his aunt in Whitefield, in a 2 BHK. “The rent for the apartment was Rs 6,000, which was considered expensive even then. I heard that the same apartment is being rented out for around Rs 40,000 now,” he said.
Dhruv, a software engineer who faced a lot of difficulties to find a place in areas such as Bellandur, Sarjapur Road, Jayanagar and Indiranagar said that good flats/apartments are either not available or their rents are really high. “You would be able to find some properties but either they wouldn't be in a good locality or they would have a really small area with stuffy rooms that have the ability to make anyone feel a little claustrophobic,” he added.
Nidhi, a chef, who has been searching for a place in the Bellandur area said, “I saw stand-alone very congested 2 BHKs on rent for Rs 30,000 and in gated societies for Rs 45,000. They are so overpriced that even if you have that kind of money you will feel you aren’t getting your money’s worth.”
The highest rent prices that have been listed to people that BOOM spoke to range from Rs 65,000 to 1.6 lakh for a 3 BHK in areas such as Indiranagar, Basaveshwar Nagar and Bellandur.
Factors That Add To Renting Woes
Preferential Treatment & Unreasonable Demands
Enumerating the factors which intensify the house hunting struggles, Bose said that sellers often interview the tenant and ask for their pay slips, alongside giving preferential treatment to those with a reputed background or college. “I was willing to pay the rent and deposit for a place, but the next day I found out that another person who was ready to pay more than the original ask got it. So I felt really cheated. It made me think about where one draws the line,” Bose recalled.
Caste, food preferences, and marital status also play a role in whether one can find a house in the city. Karthik lived in what he calls an "area dominated by brahmins" when he moved to Bengaluru first. "The landlord used to stay in Dubai but he got a lot of opposition from the families who did not want a bachelor, anyone who eats non-veg and people from lower castes to stay in the area but the landlord didn't care and he let my cousin stay.” Karthik added that it was truly difficult to rent a place for a bachelor in Malleshwaram as well, and landlords ask caste-related questions too.
Scammers are also cashing in on the desperation of house hunters.
On the unpleasant experiences one faces while dealing with landlords or sellers, Aditya said, “They ask you to come at 8 am and already lease the place at 7 am. At another place, there was a fake advertisement for a person's flat that they didn't own and the security guard told us a few people got scammed by paying the deposit and lost the amount.”
High Deposits & Rental Hikes
As if finding an ideal place in Bengaluru was not tiresome enough, the next step i.e. paying the deposit entails another string of woes. While some said that they were asked to pay a deposit worth two to three months, some have even been asked for a deposit of more than six months.
“To be honest, if you find a place that asks for a six-month deposit, that's a good deal. I have personally been in a case where the original ask by the landlord was six months but the next day I found out, that I have lost the case to someone who was willing to pay more than six months' deposit. So it is just a cash grab from the landlord and it is really not fair,” Bose said.
Dhruv, who paid around five month’s rent as security said, “People ask for a deposit that is equivalent to around 10 months of rent stating that it's standard practice."
While house owners are willing to negotiate, the minimum deposit seems to be for five to six months. If the rent is Rs 40,000, then the deposit amount could go as high as Rs 2.4 lakh if it's for just six months and Rs 4 lakh if it's for 10 months.
Amitabh Mishra, a realtor, said, “Usually the ask is 10-11 months but owners are very flexible, they are fine with a deposit of 5-6 months also. But in some cases, where it is seen that there are more buyers for one property, owners are in a better position to negotiate,” he added.
The deposit woes don't end there. Nidhi said, “While taking the security the landlords will be very nice but when they have to return it, they create a lot of drama. In most cases, they only refund a part of it and sometimes nothing at all.”
What made rents skyrocket?
Anthony Raj, managing director of Friendly Realtors and Property Management spoke to BOOM about the Bengaluru rental market situation post-COVID and said, “The rental market has witnessed a surge in demand, leading to an increase in rent prices by 20% to 40%.”
According to Raj, the current rental market in Bangalore is characterised by two outcomes. The first scenario involves owners making a rental market correction after two to three years, while in the second scenario, some owners are taking advantage of the current situation to extract more money from tenants.
Explaining the first scenario, Raj added "If the rent was Rs 40,000 in 2019 and dropped to Rs 25,000 during the pandemic, owners are now expecting rent between Rs 40,000 to Rs 45,000. This increase represents a 5% increase in rent for three years, which would have raised the rent to approximately Rs.47,000."
However, according to Raj, in the second scenario, for a place where the rent was Rs 40,000 in 2019, owners are now expecting rent between Rs.55,000 to Rs.60,000, which is way above the rental market correction. “This phenomenon is more prevalent in Bangalore's Central Business District and IT corridors,” he said.
For people who are relocating from other states and shifting within Bangalore, Raj advises them to consider traveling extra distance from their office to save on rent costs. “Since most companies are still operating under the hybrid model, this option allows tenants to suit their monetary needs. Alternatively, tenants can choose to pay higher rent prices to stay closer to their office or pay lower rent prices and commute a bit to save money,” he said.
Mishra also has similar advice for people looking for a place in Bengaluru. “There are a lot of good places in Bengaluru. They might not be near your office space but choose accordingly based on govt transport availability.”
In conclusion, Raj said that tenants must weigh their options carefully and consider their financial needs before making a decision.
Mishra also expressed that the housing situation requires government interference. “There is no support for land acquisition, the big builders can acquire the land and the rates are going crazy. There is no one to question them.”