Over the years, the evolution of the Indian national average of the rental housing market has been curiously lop-sided, even as the trends driving it has changed considerably.
Interestingly, residential rental yields in India are higher than in Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong but lower than cities like Manila and Jakarta. However, the Indian rental yield average of 3% is lower than that of other Asian countries that are pegged at 3.5 – 4% and European countries at 4.5%-5%.
According to the survey found that more than 53% of respondents looking to invest and preferred to earn a steady rental income while only 39% would focus on capital profit on the sale.
If we look at the city-wise performance for rental yields, Hyderabad tops the list with a highest rental yield of 3.7%. In Bengaluru it is 3.6%, Pune 3.3 % and in entire MMR – surprisingly – it is just 3%.
For the salaried population, the demand for rental properties is mainly driven. A maximum proportion of tenants in cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai are from the salaried section and belong to IT/ITeS, BFSI, Pharma and services. In fact, the IT/ITeS sector, BFSI, and Engineering & Manufacturing were the other sectors the key drivers for commercial space in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai have caused a stable migration to these cities.
Performance as an investment asset class
Peoples think that increasing demand for rental housing would also improve its performance as an investment asset class. Still, as the rental market grew steadily across major cities, rental yield (the annual rate of return an investor can earn from his capital invested in a property) has long since cease developing to a national average of 3%.
However, the lower the property cost, the higher is the rental yield. Therefore, investing in affordable or mid-segment properties will yield better rental returns (depending on external factors like location, project type, developer’s brand, etc.) For the same reason, luxury and super-luxury homes are not at all rewarding from a rental yield point of view.
Cities Rental Yield (in %) in 2014 Rental Yield (in %) in 2019
Gurugram 3.4 3.5
Noida 3 3.2
Greater Noida 1.8 2
Delhi 2 2.2
Pune 3 3.3
Bangalore 3.15 3.6
Hyderabad 3.2 3.7
Mumbai 3.3 3.5
Navi Mumbai 2.5 2.8
Thane 2.4 2.7
The leasing and renting of residential property currently still fall under the purview of the Rent Control Act, but each state has its own version. The Act primarily secures the rights of tenants while curbing the power of the landlord to evict tenants.
Some of the basic rights of tenants and duties of landlords in India:
A tenant has the right to a safe and secure house and the onus to ensure basic standards of accommodation are on the landlord. The landlord cannot bar essential service such as power and water to recover rental dues. In such a situation, a tenant can register a complaint against the landlord with the Rent Control Court. In order to evict a tenant; the landlord must file a petition before the Rent Control Court. The tenant has the right to privacy and the landlord cannot enter the premises without prior permission or intimation. The landlord must reimburse the tenant for any repairs that he/she carries out. The tenant must be served notice of the termination of tenancy and is entitled to receive the deposit at the end of the lease term. Legal heirs of the tenant are also considered tenants and are covered by the Rent Control Act of various states.
The need for rental housing was first mentioned in the National Housing Policy, 1988, but little has been done to expand the scope of rental policy. Many local laws need to be revisited as they are heavily skewed in favor of tenants. In many ongoing instances, tenants have been paying low rents for decades and landlords have not been able to either revise rent or evict them.
The proposed Model Tenancy Act, 2019 aims to make simpler the complex dynamic of the tenant-landlord relationship. The initial draft of the policy was released in October 2015 and aimed to encourage rental housing through public-private partnerships. The housing ministry announces a new public-private partnership (PPP) policy to support private investment in affordable housing, including rental housing, in September 2017.
Development of rental housing
At least on paper, the government has stated its intention to promote ‘Direct Relationship Rental Housing’ by providing land to developers to build rental housing. On his part, the developer would recover the cost of construction through rental income. However, due to lack of clarity on rental policy and other regulations, developers have not shown much enthusiasm to join the initiative.
Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019
As per this newly-proposed Act, intended to replace the Rent Control Act, the government has laid down the following new proposals:
- It aims to cap security deposits at two months’ rent for housing and one month’s rent for other properties. However, this cap may hurt landlords in cities where much larger security deposits have been the norm.
- The landlord is entitled to a compensation of double of the monthly rent for two months and four times of the monthly rent thereafter if a tenant does not leave the place after tenancy has been terminated by order, notice or as per agreement.
- The landlord heir rent in mid-term, cut off or withhold essential supplies or services (electricity, water, etc.)
- Before revising the rent value the property owner must give prior notice.
- A tenant without the prior consent in writing of the landowner won’t be able to sublet whole property to someone else. It is the landlord’s responsibility to rectify structural damages and undertake measures like whitewashing walls and painting doors and windows.
- An officer of the rank of deputy collector will act as rent authority to adjudicate any issue arising out of a rental disagreement.
While the proposals of the Model Tenancy Act have been widely welcomed, their implementation is not so simple. The Act is not binding on the states as land and urban development remain state subjects, so states and Union Territories can still repeal or amend their existing Acts.
Like in the case with RERA, states may choose not to follow guidelines and dilute the essence of the Model Act. Moreover, the Model Act is prospectively applicable and will not affect existing tenancies. The repeal of rent control acts can be governed by political exigencies and can be very complicated in cities like Mumbai, where tenants have occupied residential properties in prime areas for a pittance.
Another pain point could be the cap on the security deposit which is not likely to find favour with many landlords. In cities like Bangalore, the norm is a ten-month security deposit as a two-month deposit is unlikely to cover any damage to the property or a default in rent payment by the tenant.
Despite these challenges, The Model Tenancy Act is a step in the right direction. It provides a clear roadmap for states to follow, but it remains to be seen to what extent the states will toe the central government’s line. The state of Tamil Nadu had already come out with its Tenancy Act in February 2019 and may or may not follow the Model Act.
Still, a fair and balanced tenancy law protecting the rights of all parties will go a long way in formalizing and stabilizing the Indian rental market – and making it a more profitable investment route. If enforced by states in letter and spirit, it could revive the fortunes of not just the rental market but the housing sector at large.