In the absence of a regulated renting system, outstation students seeking rented accommodation around the Delhi University campus have always faced the problem of having to pay high rents. Now, with the college admission season round the corner, they will again be at the mercy of landlords as the long-standing demand for the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1995 hasn’t materialised yet.
Satendra Awana, president of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) from ABVP told The Sunday Guardian, “We have spoken to the Vice Chancellor and also to the Dean, Students Welfare, about this matter several times, but to no avail. We had been raising our voice and will continue to do so against the extortion by landlords.”
Awana also blamed the Arvind Kejriwal government for not being able to enact any legislation to curb high rents for students. “Kejriwal had promised to look into the matter. He should walk the talk now,” he said.
Abhash Chandela, president of the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS), the students’ wing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), also admitted that the issue of high rents is a major problem for outstation students of Delhi University. “We are talking to the government about the issue. We want a solution whereby neither the tenants nor landlords face any loss,” he said.
Alka Lamba, a senior leader and AAP MLA and also a former president of DUSU, said that DU students have been demanding the regulation of rents since 1995, and assured to provide relief to the students soon. “Even when I was the president of DUSU, the rent was a major issue, but successive governments have failed to achieve anything on the issue,” she said. “We have a proposal to build more hostels and affordable accommodation for students, but that will take time. For immediate relief, we will work something out soon to put a cap on the maximum amount of rent,” she added.
The Delhi government recently constituted a 10-member committee to work closely with students to understand their problems and provide amicable solutions.
Rented accommodations are not cheap and one often needs to take the help of real estate agents or property dealers who work closely with the landlords. A one BHK rented accommodation can cost a student somewhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000 a month and a two BHK accommodation could cost around Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 a month. This excludes bills for electricity, water and meals, in areas like Kamla Nagar, Roop Nagar, Jawahar Nagar which surround the North Campus of the DU.
Rajat Jha, a Political Science student from Bihar said, “I am staying in a one BHK house and paying a rent of Rs 16,000 a month. My landlord charges us for electricity according to the commercial unit rates, but we cannot say anything as we are asked to leave if any questions are asked,” he said.
Radhika Sharma, another DU student, said, “Though I stay as a paying guest and share my room with another girl, I still pay Rs 8,500, and this excludes electricity, water and meals. As the admission season approaches, the rents would again rise,” she said.
Accommodations at Satya Niketan in Delhi University’s South Campus are not cheap either. A one BHK flat here costs around Rs 17,000 to Rs 18,000 a month, while a two BHK costs around the same amount as in North Campus. The Anand Niketan area opposite South Campus of DU is quite expensive and a two BHK rented apartment can cost Rs 60,000 a month as the area is in a high security zone and houses several embassies.
Abha Dev Habib, executive council member of DUTA, said that the political parties need the will to work for welfare of the students. “The University can maintain a list of cheap and safe university-approved accommodations which could be regulated by the University as currently the University does not have the required hostel capacity. The government should also consider these issues on a priority basis,” she said.