Hunt for a home not easy for trans­gen­der groups

They are not just ha­rassed while look­ing for places to rent, landown­ers who do take them in charge more money and en­croach upon their per­sonal space

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Rozelle Laha Sarai NHPC Chowk Sec­tor 28 Mewla Ma­hara­jpur Bad­khal Mor Old Farid­abad Nee­lam Chowk Ajronda Bata Chowk Es­corts Mu­je­sar 2007 ab­sorp­tion or take up of around units an­nu­ally Prices around per sq ft av­er­age price in 2007

hree decades ago, one as­so­ci­ated Farid­abad with ve­hi­cles with red tail lights that trans­ported iron beams to fac­to­ries. One was asked to avoid the Cap­i­tal’s Ring Road af­ter 10 pm as these were then fa­mous for ob­struct­ing traf­fic. Then there were char­tered buses tak­ing peo­ple to and from work at the Es­corts and Havells fac­to­ries and the ob­scure aunt or un­cle talk­ing about selling plots in Farid­abad to buy prop­er­ties in Delhi. One’s ex­po­sure to Farid­abad ended there.

Three years ago Farid­abad made head­lines as In­dia’s most af­flu­ent city. A study re­vealed that Farid­abad’s sec­tors 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 had an av­er­age house­hold in­come of ₹ 22.96 lakh per an­num, the high­est in the coun­try. The Del­hiBadarpur Metro link rolled in 2011 but had lit­tle or no im­pact on prop­erty prices un­til a week ago when prime min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in­au­gu­rated the 13-km stretch con­nect­ing Delhi to Es­corts Mu­je­sar.

This new metro con­nec­tiv-

If you’re sin­gle and have had prob­lems rent­ing an apart­ment, then think about how dif­fi­cult it must be for transgenders in a city where bi­ases make life ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for peo­ple per­ceived as ‘dif­fer­ent.’ Most of them say that land­lords in the city treat them “like hu­man be­ings from another planet.”

Re­call­ing the ha­rass­ment she faces while house hunt­ing, Ki­ran, trans­gen­der, so­cial ac­tivist, nurse and coun­sel­lor at Naz Foun­da­tion, a NGO that pro­vides sup­port to the LGBT com­mu­nity, says that once a home owner let his eyes wan­der all over her body and then asked if she was a boy or a girl.

“While we are now al­most used to the stares we get when we look for homes to rent, it be­comes dif­fi­cult to an­swer the to­tally un­nec­es­sary ques­tions asked by peo­ple. The worst was when I was asked whether I had been cas­trated or not. What con­nec­tion does it have with my want­ing a house to rent,” asks Ki­ran. While a few might agree that land­lords as

a rule have The 14-km-long ex­ten­sion has nine sta­tions from Sarai to Es­corts Mu­je­sar, cov­er­ing large part of the satel­lite town­ship. Two more sta­tions, NCB Colony and Bal­lab­garh, will come up by 2017 ity and the fact that the city topped the smart cities list in Delhi-NCR with 95 points, has got real es­tate de­vel­op­ers and con­sul­tants ex­cited. They hope that over the next 12 months, cor­po­rates, es­pe­cially out­sourc­ing and bank­ing com­pa­nies, will move into Farid­abad, trig­ger­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties and even­tu­ally en­cour­ag­ing more ‘work­ers’ to take up res­i­dence in this town which al­most touches to be cau­tious while rent­ing out their prop­er­ties, transgenders are usu­ally sin­gled out for ha­rass­ment. Their or­deal starts when they get in touch with prop­erty agents, who charge a higher com­mis­sion amount by say­ing that there are very few op­tions and that it is a task to get a house for them.

Pro­bir Mon­dol, who has been in Delhi for the last 15 years, says, “My mother was look­ing for an apart­ment for both of us. When he came to know that I was a trans­gen­der, the land­lord re­fused to lis­ten to her. They think that we wear t-shirts and trousers and walk out of the house and then wear sa­rees and beg at the traf­fic sig­nals.”

Transgenders who do man­age to pass the in­ter­view round with the land­lords qual­ify for the sec­ond round of the bat­tle – rent ne­go­ti­a­tion. Most land­lords will charge them at least 50% more than the pre­vail­ing rates. “We are asked to pay an ex­or­bi­tant amount be­cause they want to dis­cour­age us from tak­ing their homes. And, if we agree to pay the amount, they make a clean profit any­way,” Ki­ran says,s adding­ing that it took her ququite some time to fig­ure out that hher neigh­bours­bours were pay­ing near­lyn­ear half of what she had been chacharged for her apart­ment.

Mov­ing in is anotheranothe or­deal. “In case we have any prob­lemsp with the house, the own­er­sowne do not want to dis­cuss it. My househo does not have even the ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties KI­RAN, soci so­cial ac­tivist, nurse and counse coun­sel­lor, Naz

Found Foun­da­tion south Delhi. There is new-found con­fi­dence that the NH2 stretch which is cur­rently be­ing widened to six lanes by L&T, will one day com­pete with the likes of NH8 in Gur­gaon. Farid­abad could in all like­li­hood be rac­ing ahead of its rich neigh­bours.

Known for core in­dus­tries, the city is likely to see a shift to­wards ser­vice in­dus­tries, out­sourc­ing, bank­ing etc. “Un­der the smart cities scheme we will – and there is ab­so­lutely no pri­vacy. They tend to walk into our rooms and also al­low strangers to do so. If we ques­tion them as to why we do not get any pri­vacy, they say, ‘you have to live like this or look for some other place’,” says Ki­ran. Each time there is a de­bate around Sec­tion 377 of the In­dian Pe­nal Code, which crim­i­nalises sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties “against the or­der of na­ture,” ar­guably in­clud­ing ho­mo­sex­ual acts, the land­lords tend to mis­in­ter­pret the is­sue and treat her like a crim­i­nal. “If friends come to visit, the land­lord’s fam­ily mem­bers keep look­ing in as if I am a crim­i­nal or have a crim­i­nal in my house,” she adds.

As of now though there is no spe­cific en­acted law pro­vid­ing for pro­tec­tion of prop­erty in­ter­ests of the third gen­der or transgenders in In­dia. The Supreme Court in its judg­ment in Na­tional Le­gal Ser­vices Au­thor­ity v. Union of In­dia (2014) pro­pounded that trans-gen­ders have equal hu­man and fun­da­men­tal rights. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that “gen­der iden­ti­fi­ca­tion be­comes a very es­sen­tial com­po­nent which is re­quired for en­joy­ing civil rights by this com­mu­nity. It is only with this recog­ni­tion that many rights at­tached to the sex­ual recog­ni­tion as ‘third gen­der’ would be avail­able to this com­mu­nity more mean­ing­fully

3,900

4,000

en­sure that ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture un­der­goes im­prove­ment – there are safe pedes­trian paths, con­trolled ve­hic­u­lar move­ment etc,” prom­ises says PC Meena, HUDA ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to Ashok Sharma, mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner, Farid­abad scored the high­est in the first round of the smart cities chal­lenge be­cause of its viz. the right to vote, the right to own prop­erty, the right to marry, the right to claim a for­mal iden­tity through a pass­port and a ra­tion card, a driver’s li­cense, the right to ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment, health so on,” says Su­nil Tyagi, se­nior part­ner, Zeus Law.

The Rights to Equal­ity, Life and Lib­erty which are en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia are fun­da­men­tal rights avail­able to all ‘per­sons’. Thus, the same rights are avail­able to transgenders as well. Fur­ther, there are cer­tain ba­sic hu­man rights which have been adopted by the United Na­tions as per which transgenders should be ac­corded with the same rights as other gen­ders in any so­ci­ety. Thus, they can­not be de­nied hous­ing or dis­crim­i­nated against, Tyagi adds.

Speak­ing on hous­ing re­lated is­sues faced by transgenders in the city, Anjali Gopalan, founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Naz Foun­da­tion says, “If a ten­ant is pay­ing the rent on time and not cre­at­ing any un­nec­es­sary prob­lems for the land­lord, how does it mat­ter what their gen­der is? It is not a bad idea to have a law to guar­an­tee hous­ing to transgenders. But, un­less the at­ti­tude of peo­ple change in our coun­try, it would be dif­fi­cult to force some­one in a pri­vate house­hold to rent out their house against their will just be­cause of a law.” s far as prop­erty prices in Farid­abad are con­cerned, plots are in the range of ₹ 20,000 sq yard and apart­ments ₹ 3,000 per sq ft on­wards. Go­ing for­ward, this will pri­mar­ily be an end-user mar­ket. The next 12 months will see con­sol­i­da­tion of stock as de­mand picks up. “Equi­lib­rium will be reached in the next six to eight months af­ter de­mand picks up but prices will not in­crease more than 8%,” Anckur Sri­vast­tava of GenReal Ad­vis­ers says.

“Another trend that one will see is that of peo­ple liv­ing in smaller units in Delhi mov­ing out to Farid­abad and buy­ing or rent­ing big­ger units. All that, how­ever, will hap­pen pro­vided con­nec­tiv­ity is sup­ported by com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity and jobs,” adds Dr Sa­man­tak Das, chief economist and di­rec­tor - re­searcher, Knight Frank In­dia, adding go­ing for­ward, prices may in­crease by 5% to 6% per an­num be­cause the base is still low (sub-₹4000 per sq ft range).

Un­til now the city was bereft of public trans­port, now the real life­line will be the Metro, which will en­cour­age peo­ple to move into Farid­abad. “Soon we will see the num­ber of fam­i­lies liv­ing in Greater Farid­abad dou­ble – from 10,000 to 20,000 and see more cor­po­rates mov­ing in,” says Ar­jun Puri of Puri Con­struc­tions.

RPS In­fra­struc­ture Lim­ited plans to come up with 5 mil­lion sq ft of of­fice space right op­po­site the first Metro sta­tion, Sarai, in Farid­abad. “Ap­prox­i­mately 2 mn sq ft will be ready by end of this year. DBS Bank, In­dus Ind Bank and Es­corts Group of Com­pa­nies have taken up 1 lakh sq ft of space. The pro­ject will also have a 25-storey com­mer­cial tower,” says RC Gupta, MD, RPS In­fra­struc­ture Lim­ited.

PHOTOS: SUSHIL KU­MAR

S BURMAULA

Ki­ran (mid­dle) shares a light mo­ment with friends Pro­bir (left) and Prince

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