The latest in a set of unwritten “rules” followed by housing societies while letting out flats to people in the city is “no singles allowed” .
Single men and women in the city are increasingly finding it difficult to find accommodation even with real estate agents as they have started drawing up a list of societies that do not allow singles to narrow down options.
Actor Konkona Sensharma, appearing on a TV show on Wednesday, spoke up against this housing apartheid in India after a Mumbai housing society allegedly refused to allow single women.
The reason cited by the housing societies is that “single” tenants are inclined towards alcohol, partying with friends and smoking, which “disturbs family atmosphere”.
“Single men bring women over and vice versa on weekends and holidays. There are loud parties which get noisier with time and become a nuisance for their neighbours. Singles are considered to be ‘risky’ for disturbing the family atmosphere in societies,” said Amar Manjal, former president, Malad Estate Agents Association.
There is a further prejudice against people working in the film industry. “Societies believe people from the film world have affairs, which can go wrong and create trouble for the society members. Moreover, when people become inebriate after parties, they can create trouble,” he added.
To avoid this perception, estate agents advise house-seekers to get their parents to sign the lease and stay with them for 2-3 weeks.
“Even if they are 30-year-old, we advise people to bring their parents to meet the society members, whose NOC is needed before the agreement can be signed. Having a parent live with the singles gives a family-like feel and housing societies are more comfortable with that,” said Ashish Desai, a real estate agent from Churchgate.
While “no boys allowed” is a warning for most women tenants, the rules do not stop there.
Housing societies in the city are known to ban, although not explicitly, Muslim and Catholic tenants, non-vegetarian food and pets.
“The non-Muslim rule is more prevalent in Jain and Gujarati-dominated societies, which have a problem with non-vegetarian food. It is not that they are anti-Muslim, they are more anti-non-veg,” said Manjal, who adds that in the same building smoking and alcohol is allowed as long as it does not disrupt the peace.
There have also been instances of tenants being fined for feeding strays in their housing society. “I was fined Rs 1,000 for feeding some cats inside the building. I now have a copy of a notice from the Animal Welfare Board of India that allows feeding of strays,” said Yohan Wadia, a graphic designer living in Panvel.