Unaided Low-income Shared Rental Housing: A Case of Formal Rental Housing Market in Bangalore


The Unaided Low-Income Shared Rental Housing (LI-SRH) market in India is dominated by the informal, yet organically organised segment of shared rental housing. Offering inexpensive shelter, this shared rental housing mainly caters to young adults who migrate to cities, primarily for employment and education. These facilities are operated and maintained by informal rental operators, who are neither the tenants, nor the owners of such housing facilities. The Rental Housing Management Companies (RHMCs) as the formal rental operators are the third key stakeholder in the shared rental housing market who are neither identified nor recognised by the government or any agency. However, these RHMCs who operate a formal unaided shared rental housing for low-income tenants face the biggest brunt, as they have to pay additional taxes and utility bills as per the commercial charges, and pay registration fees for their rental agreements compared to the informal rental operators. These additional charges and fees are one of the key components that disrupts the business models of RHMCs where it consumes the major share of their revenue by leaving them with thin profit margins, and compete with the informal rental housing market which escapes from all additional charges and fees and yet does not provide adequate housing. Based on qualitative research conducted in Bengaluru, India, this article examines how the business models of RHMCs in the shared rental housing market are impacted as they provide cheaper housing for low-income migrants yet maintain the minimum standards of an affordable, viable, and adequate housing. It explores their competition with the informal rental housing providers and their challenges in providing cheap rental housing options in the shared rental housing market without any support from the government. This article brings to light an under-studied yet a key stakeholder in the LI-SRH market, and serves as a much-needed starting point for future research.