With the ‘work from home’ provision continuing for many professionals in major Indian cities, the demand for furniture rental units is at an all-time high. In addition to expanding their existing rental spaces, warehouse companies have even come up with special packages for college students, most of whom continue to take online lessons.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and the nationwide lockdown was announced in March, hundreds of families and bachelors, living on rent in big cities, have vacated their rented apartments and moved to their hometowns. Across Pune city, the rent of most apartments have dropped by 30 to 40 per cent.
Rented houses in localities such as Wagholi, Hinjewadi, Wakad, Kalyaninagar, Magarpatta, Hadapsar — which house MNCs and IT companies — have borne the brunt of this change. Meanwhile, those professionals who are working remotely from their native places foresee no requirement to return to cities anytime soon.
“Earlier, families would store household goods for six months to a year, when they were heading for an on-site project. Since the pandemic, professionals who have relocated temporarily to their hometowns are seeking storage spaces for either three or six months,” said Shweta Sharma, relationship manager at Storekaro, a company that provides storage spaces in Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Storage space is available for anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 a month in Pune, Gurgaon and Hyderabad. In Mumbai, the monthly storage rate can range between Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000.
Gati Movers Packers had three warehouses in Gurgaon till March this year. But as families began relocating in the following months, even their additionally acquired warehouses are now running out of storage space.
“We currently have eight warehouses in Gurgaon that are storing furniture of about 4,500 families. Not many families have returned to claim their household items and some plan to extend the storage service,” said Nagendra Garewal, proprietor of the NCR-based company.
As colleges and universities remain closed, there are no takers for hostels and shared apartments either.
To cater to students, Storekaro even came up with a special package for them. “We offered 25 sq feet space to students holding valid college ID cards. Students were also encouraged to take up a space on a shared basis,” said Sharma, who added that the company’s storage space in Pune has gone up from five to 14 warehouses in the recent months.
Many tenants in Mumbai have shifted their household goods to Pune, as storage spaces in Mumbai started filling up soon after the lockdown was announced.
House owners, too, have been facing an uphill task as they are unable to find tenants. “Tenants are unwilling to pay more than Rs 8,000 – Rs 10,000 for a 1 BHK, and not more than Rs 12 000 – Rs 15,000 for a 2BHK with basic amenities in most locations in Pune. Even with lower tariffs, many owners have not succeeded in renting out their homes during the last eight months,” said Anant Songire, proprietor of Classic Real Estate in Pune.
Songire said that at least 70 per cent of the available rented houses in Pune have been unoccupied since April.
Normally, the demand for rental units is always higher than the availability. “But since the pandemic, there is only about 30 per cent demand. Except for Shivajinagar and Kothrud, all other areas have seen a sharp decline in the rent amount,” added Songire.
Biny Vincent, who owns a 2.5 BHK apartment in Pimple Gurav, has not had a tenant since June this year. “My apartment would always have occupants moving in and out, every 11 months. But since our last tenant shifted out in June, there have been no enquiries even for the apartment. So, I plan to take up some basic maintenance work till somebody rents it,” said Vincent.
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