Housing: Govt to amend Rent Act, declare it industry

New Delhi: Faced with the challenge of urban housing shortage for the poor, government today said it is taking several steps including nation-wide support to municipalities to build rental homes, amending the archaic Rent Control Act and declaring the sector an industry.

Unveiling the report of the Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage (2012-17), Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja said the maximum shortage exists for the economically weaker sections and the lower income group whose “need is unable to get translated into demand due to issues of affordability”.

Selja said the report, prepared by the Group headed by Professor Amitabh Kundu, points out that the highest urban housing shortage is in states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Rajasthan.

HUPA Secretary Arun Kumar Mishra said that on an average about 27 per cent of the population in urban areas lives in rental accommodation as per the 2011 Census and so the Centre has decided to support states under Rajiv Awas Yojana to go in for rental housing for the poor.

States like Orissa, MP, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have shown a keen interest in this policy.

While it was estimated in 2007 that the shortage of urban housing at the beginning of the 12th Five Year Plan would be around 26.5 million, when the Plan began this year it was down to 18.78 m “which is a huge achievement”, he said.

Other policy interventions being worked by HUPA are that Housing be made a part of infrastructure sector or declared an industry as this will incentivise construction activity for the poor also and bringing vacant houses into the housing market through taxation and incentivise policies.

More community involvement, encouraging states under JNNURM to deal with vacant houses, enabling households facing congestion to create extra space or rooms through public support and shifting over 80-year-old households to new units are some of the other efforts being made by HUPA.