The missing link: understanding rental housing for urban poor

Drawing from primary data from a household survey of 1800 urban poor households that included landlord and tenants across Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, and Cochin across slum or non-slum low income neighborhoods; the findings reveal poorer housing condition in slums than those living in non-slum areas. It also shows that the households providing rental services to urban poor are also urban poor and they continue to rely on informal rental practices. This further perpetuates the deficient access to basic civic infrastructure both for the renter and rent provider, further marginalizing the renter. These findings suggest that there is an imminent need to recognize urban poor households as a critical supplier of rental housing stock for the urban poor and to develop comprehensive approaches for incentivizing them to improve the quality of living in renting arrangements. It further highlights the need to involve communities to create quasi legal structures for easier and faster dispute resolution, preferably outside the formal legal structure – cost of compliance to the Model Tenancy Act (MTA) may end up exacerbating poverty among the renters. The report further highlights the importance of policy and planning measures including earmarking land for affordable rental housing near and around high growth areas, servicing areas where poor urban tenants live, among others.