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