Paying Guest accommodations can be like the film adaption of books: Almost always terrible without the essence of the original, that is, the home.
While most Paying Guest Accomodation (PG) owners claim zealously to replicate aspects of your home, with some even going to the extent of naming their PGs, “Home Away From Home”, most fail to do the same. Now that the admission season is at its peak, here is a guide to PG hunting for students looking for an accommodation in the city.
The Curious Case of the ‘5-Minute Walking Distance’:
Regardless of whether the PG is at a distance of 1.5 kilometers or 15 kms away from college, the claim of it being at a 5-minute walking distance from the concerned prospective client’s college is universal. As you will realize for yourself, it is wise to manually check the distance between your prospective PG and college or the market rather than accepting your prospective proprietor’s fraudulent claims at face value.
Inclusive Of All Overhead Costs: A Myth:
When I had gone PG hunting last year, one PG proprietor in Kamla Nagar had told me, “Sab Included Hain Ji (everything is included). Electricity, food charges, everything is included in your rent.” While I seemed impressed by the cost effectiveness of the entire proposition, I still wanted to verify these claims by taking first-hand information from the inmates of the PG. When I asked around, I was told that besides laundry and the electricity bill for the AC, the residents also had to pay for the drinking water. I understood that “Everything Is Included” is a tag-line fondly used by proprietors to seize the prospective residents. Students are advised not to fall prey to these fancy claims. Proprietors are like mobile service providers. They promise too much, deliver very little.
Exclusive Electricity Charges: A Tale of Wondrous Deception
In PGs wherein the electricity bill is not included within the rent, there remains room for ghastly swindling and tampering with the power units recorded on the meter. Doreen Barpujari, a student of Ramjas College who was a resident of a PG in Shakti Nagar told DU Beat, “For the first few months, the meter in my room displayed that I had consumed 500 units which is a a massive amount considering the fact that I didn’t even have an AC in my room. As such, I had to pay over INR 1,000 in those months.” She added, “Finally, a group of us who were victims of similar grievances decided to go on a fact-finding mission. We realised that the proprietor had been trifling with the power meters in our rooms to secure extra money from us.”
The Fable of The ‘One Fruit Everyday’:
During the admission season last year, when I had first visited the PG wherein I would spend the next one year, I remember my proprietor bragging, “We give one fruit everyday. That is why, year after year, our rooms get filled up after the first cut-off list itself.”
Both of his claims, I realised much later, were as perfidious as Donald Trump’s hair. The authenticity of all three were questionable. Halfway into my first month in the PG, I realised that far from providing us with ‘one fruit everyday’, the food wasn’t half as good as the sample I was made to taste when I had first visited it. In fact, this act of fabricating their quality of food is a common phenomenon in most PGs. While some PGs send special instructions to the cook to prepare the most appetizing of food for sampling during the admission season, others hire specialists in food making as long as the cut-off lists keep coming. It is important not to be lured by this duplicity and confirm the food-related claims through first-hand information from the residents themselves.
Security Money Scandals:
Most PGs require the residents to deposit a particular amount of money as ‘security deposit’, mostly fixing it as two months’ of rent or more. The idea behind keeping an amount for security is to ensure that the residents do not leave the PG in the middle of the academic session. For if they do, it becomes a herculean task to fetch new residents. While most PGs pledge to return the security deposit when the residents leave, only a few PGs religiously follow this pledge. The DU Beat correspondent was told by Priyanka Singh, a student of Hansraj College, “My PG only returned half of the security deposit.” On the other hand, Tanvi Ghosh, a student Ramjas College testified, “My PG did not return the security deposit at all. Despite repeated calls and warnings of taking legal action, I did not get the security money back. One idea to prevent this swindling of money is to document all cash transactions in legal terms and bonds, the absence of which allows the PG proprietors to fleece money and trick the students.
For rooms without an attached bathroom, most PG proprietors try to accommodate a number of residents within the ambit of one common washroom itself. Pallavi Das, a student of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur (SGTB) Khalsa College lived in a PG in Mukherjee Nagar for a year. She shared her washroom woes with this correspondent, “I had booked a room without an attached washroom and I was told that only 3 people would be sharing the washroom which was allotted to me. Two days after living in the PG, I noticed that the washroom would be occupied every time that I had gone to use it. Two more days later, I realized that my washroom had been allotted to 7 other people.”
Like all other businesses, PGs are also run by both well-meaning and duplicitous people. Moving away from home is a task in itself requiring immense change and adjustment. Your PG adding to your problems and making the transition even more complicated is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, do not be lazy while researching for PGs. Look at all possible accommodation in person, ask detailed questions, have all transactions and promises on the record, and seek recommendations and feedback from current residents while making this decision that will greatly affect your college life.
Feature Image Credits: Wudstay
Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak