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2016-05-19 04:49:43

Muslims find it toughest to rent houses in NCR, says UN report

A 33-page report released last week by Helsinki-based United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) has revealed that when it comes to renting houses in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida, Muslims find it more difficult than others.

The report, authored by Saugato Datta and Vikram Pathania published under the title ‘For whom does the phone (not) ring? Discrimination in the rental housing market in Delhi, India’ is based on an audit experiment carried out using one of India’s largest real estate and rental websites. “We find strong evidence of discrimination against Muslim applicants, both in terms of probability of being contacted and the number of contacts, relative to upper-caste Hindu (UC) applicants, in the rental housing market in Delhi and its largest suburbs,” the report says.

The study was conducted in the summer of 2015 over a two-month period and the authors scanned the most recently posted rental listings for Delhi and its two largest contiguous suburbs on this website and identified a convenience sample of 171 listings posted directly by landlords (i.e., not ones posted by an agent from a rental or property agency).

According to the report, a Muslim applicant must respond to 45.5 listings to receive 10 landlord callbacks, while an upper-caste applicant must respond to only 28.6 listings to receive the same number. A similar pattern obtains in the case of the number of callbacks. “A Muslim applicant would need to send about 21 expressions of interest to get 10 callbacks, whereas an UC candidate would only need to send just over 12. Both these results point to significant disadvantages faced by Muslim applicants relative to upper-caste Hindus, who must expend significantly more effort to find housing,” the report added. It also revealed that landlords offering 1-BHK properties are particularly reluctant to respond to Muslim applicants. Since male applicants for one-bedroom properties are commonly perceived to be single, this suggests that “single Muslim men may be finding it especially challenging to find suitable housing in Delhi and its suburbs”.

The report also mentioned that Muslim applicants are especially disadvantaged when applying to rent one-bedroom houses. “There is an additional 20% point-reduction in the probability of a callback,” the report says. 

The report, also adds that in contrast to Muslims, “we find no clear evidence that landlords are less likely to respond to Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes.” However, the report also mentioned that “we find some suggestive evidence that landlords wait longer to call Muslim (and to a lesser extent Scheduled Caste) applicants back after receiving a query from them than they do to call back upper- caste Hindus.”

The issue of housing discrimination has been highlighted in the past too. Earlier this year, Leilani Farha, the UN Rapporteur for Housing had also highlighted the issue of discrimination against Muslims, saying, “…studies on access to private rental accommodation in the NCR shows that discrimination against Muslims (as well as Dalits) is a barrier to housing access. Private landlords, real estate brokers, and property dealers will often refuse to rent to someone who is Muslim, or impose unfair conditions.”

In 2013, Twocircles.net had also showed how Muslims were discriminated against when it comes to renting houses. 99 acres, a leading real estate portal, had listed properties which categorically announced that these properties were “not for Muslims”. The website 99acres.com had also posted several ads that specifically say “only Muslims allowed” which was equally discriminatory.

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