Owing to the nationwide lockdown which has brought a halt to many activities, students are being asked to pay for the rented accommodations even though their rooms remain unoccupied.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order according to which landlords cannot demand rent from students, workers and migrant labourers for a month. The order by MHA states, “Wherever the workers, including the migrants, are living in rented accommodation, the landlords of those properties shall not demand payment of rent for the period of one month.” The order further adds, “If any landlord is forcing labourers and students to vacate their premises, they will be liable for action under the Act.”
With the outbreak of Coronavirus, some students fled to their hometown and some remained stuck in their PGs or other rented occupancies. With stringent restrictions of going out or accessing banks among other things, students find it extremely difficult to arrange for rent in these times. Those who have left their PGs to go home are also asked to pay rent, and fearing evacuation in such uncertain times students are facing troubles in paying rents especially when the means to pay have become scarce.
Deya Kangnoo, a first-year B.A programme student at Kamala Nehru College who is currently in Jammu expressed her concerns to DU Beat and said, “My dad’s occupation is business and due to this lockdown people are unable to travel from one place to another, so it’s arduous for all of the business personnel to generate income.” She further added, “It’s really insensitive to ask for rent in such times when families are struggling to maintain livelihoods. I don’t even have a rental agreement which I am sure not every PG student has, so these guidelines by Ministries have no binding on us.”
Mannat, a first-year student of BA (Hons) Journalism expressed the plight of PG owners to DU Beat and said, “Landlords’ income also gets affected with this lockdown since many depend on it as their livelihood including my father, who I see every day getting stressed about his business. It’s only when he initiates dialogues with the student tenants, they agree to pay- so we have money to sustain ourselves for food and needs.” She further added, “the cooks and other workers at PG also deserve to be paid in a respectable manner so it’s only fair that students attempt to negotiate with their landlords.”
Vinitha another student at Kamla Nehru College who is in Mysore told DU Beat, “We have negotiated a deal with the owner and those who are staying in the PG pay the full amount and those who don’t- pay half the sum including myself.”
Students who are from well to do families afford to pay half or full amount of rent to their landlords, whereas others from small towns or villages with minimal access to online banking or even a bank itself face vulnerability and threat of evacuation. Despite the Ministry guidelines, students are asked to pay rent even for the unoccupied rooms, and once again the rich-poor and digital divide comes into the centre stage to give momentum to inequalities and vulnerabilities.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat archives