If you’ve been seeing quite a few To-Let boards in the City, you’re not imagining them. The boards are appearing on shop windows, house gates and at office entrances as people have started seeking safe places. Like a flock of birds flying homes to shelters from the storm, thousands of people in the City are seeking out the safety of their parents’ homes and home towns.
Sujit Kumar had rented a house in Marathahalli because it was close to his office. With Covid cases in Bengaluru averaging close to 10,000 a day and the fears of a lockdown rising again, Kumar has vacated his house and moved back in with his parents’ house in Hesaraghatta. Kumar is just one of the many who have moved out of their current accommodations to safer options.
Darshana (name changed), a content writer, will be moving house this weekend. Her landlord had raised the rent and she moved to another area where she could be close to a friend and her family. “Last year’s lockdown was hard on me. I don’t think I can survive another lockdown, living alone,” she says.
Realty professionals say that with the resurgence of Covid cases, many rented houses are becoming vacant. T Ramesh Kumar, a real estate agent said, “Many of my shops are also vacant. Shopkeepers have vacated the premises fearing a lockdown. Rumours are spreading as rapidly as the coronavirus. Despite the State Government saying there will be no lockdown, people are not ready to listen and they don’t want to get stuck in the city without transportation and food, like last year. Hence, a section of the people is moving out and commercial complex owners are staring at vacant shops and offices.”
Kamala S, a resident of Defence Colony said, “My tenants had vacated the house last year and just two months back they had returned. But with Covid cases rising again, they have gone back to their home towns. I don’t know how long I will have to wait till I get new tenants.”
The railway stations have been seeing a huge rush of people in the last few weeks as many are heading out of the City. A few want to settle down in their home towns where Covid cases are comparatively lesser. As many companies have been offering work from home, many are opting to work from villages and small towns that they come from. R Prasad, a first-year BA student told Mirror, “I vacated my house on Bannerghatta road on April 11 and went back to Patna as my classes are now online. Back home, my parents are worried about my safety. Many of my friends have also moved out of the city.”
Those who own houses are now planning to offer discounts to their tenants. “As per the agreement, there used to be a 10 per cent hike in the rent every year. However, we have discontinued the practice and instead have asked for a five per cent increase. It’s better to have some rent coming in than none at all. Even if a house is vacant, we have to pay a minimum amount for electricity and water bills, and property tax,” said Girish S, a techie and a house owner.
My tenants had vacated the house last year and just two months back they had returned. But with Covid cases rising again, they have gone back to their home towns.— Kamala S, a resident of Defence Colony
Lakshmipathi B, a civil engineer said, “Work from Home and better internet connectivity in places away from Bengaluru is driving people to rural areas. When you can work from anywhere, why would anyone want to stay in Bengaluru and pay high rents? We are also seeing a sudden cancellation of orders from clients who wanted to build houses for rent. Now, we are being asked to wait for a few years so that the demand picks up.”
There are others who are hiring storage spaces to dump their luggage. “Since we are vacating our rented accommodation for a few months, we are looking for places where we can store our things till we come back. Once the situation normalises, we can come back and set up a new home,” said Prashanthi Reddy, a student. However, Suma Devi, a Bengalurean said, “Since last year we have been seeing that when Covid cases rise, people vacate the city and move out. I am a local, so where can I go? I have to stay here and protect myself from Covid. However, during my walks, I see many ‘To Let’ boards everywhere.”