Renting to Foreigners: Know the Law
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Renting to Foreigners: Know the Law

Earlier foreign students were seen as the ideal tenants to have. Most landlords preferred them to Indian students because they assumed foreign students could be charged more, that they would pay rent on time, were well-behaved, and could be vacated without much trouble. But this is not true anymore.

Recently, the Committee of an Apartment Complex in Mysuru sent a “secret” letter to the apartment owners requesting them not to rent out their apartments to foreign students, particularly students from the Middle East. Their reason was that the students were throwing loud parties and violating apartment rules.

Foreign students are just as good or troublesome as Indian students. But Indian landlords feel that renting out their homes to foreign students could complicate matters. Reportedly, even a Police complaint against them could lead to their country’s Consulate getting involved — a problem that no landlord wants to deal with.

This negative word of mouth is making it difficult for foreign students to rent homes. To make matters worse, there is a recent rule that makes it even harder for foreign students to rent a place. This rule also makes it difficult for landlords who previously didn’t care who they rented their homes to.

Since 2008, landlords have had to be responsible for their tenants, more so, if the tenant is a foreigner. But many don’t seem to be aware of this rule, and end up like Ashwatha Narayana Reddy, 54, a resident of Kalyan Nagar, Bengaluru.

Ashwatha Narayana Reddy had rented out a flat in Bengaluru to two students from Africa. These two students had overstayed their visa and now the Police have made Reddy an accused and charged him with abetting the illegal overstay of his tenants.

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Reddy is fighting his case in High Court. If the Police prove him guilty, abetting a foreign national to overstay could mean a prison sentence or a hefty fine for Mr. Reddy!

Karnataka has the highest number of foreign students in India. According to Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, Karnataka has 38% of total foreign students studying in India. Now, Mysuru too is attracting a lot of foreign students, both for yoga and academics. So it is important that the landlords know how to rent or lease their property.

Indians renting their place to foreigners are now required to:

  1. Check the tenant’s passport for identity and make sure their Visa is valid and retain a photocopy of both.
  2. The landowner who is giving their property for rent to a foreigner should create a rental agreement only for the duration of the validity of their Visa.
  3. The landlord then must submit the details of the residing foreigner in Form C to the Registration authorities within 24 hours of the foreigner’s arrival at their premises.

To do this, the landlord must first register himself online at https://indianfrro.gov.in/frro/FormC.  Once the landlord is effectively registered and verified, they must generate a Form C for each individual staying in their premises even if they are a part of the principal registrant’s family.

If you do not have internet access, you can visit the local Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), which is in the Mysuru City Police Commissioner’s Office premises.

This tenant verification becomes relevant today as we live in times of terror attacks. In Karnataka, tenant verification by the landlord was made mandatory after Yasin Bhatkal, the alleged mastermind of the Chinnaswamy Stadium twin blasts, stayed in a rented room in Tumakuru building bombs.

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In Delhi, apartment owners can be prosecuted under Section 188 of IPC, which is disobedience of a government order, if they do not verify their tenants and later if such tenants were found by Police to have criminal antecedents. The punishment for the landlord could be 1-6 months jail term.

Two years ago, Bhawani Shankar, resident of Safdarjung Enclave in South Delhi, rented his apartment without proper verification and in violation of the Delhi Police’s notification. He was sentenced to three months in jail. The Metropolitan Magistrate, while passing the judgement said, “The act of the accused (Shankar) may seem not so serious but the violation of law might have resulted in escaping of anti-social elements and sometimes terrorists from the arm of the law. Hence, it is time to take such notifications very seriously and a time to create deterrent effect of not following the law in such circumstances.”

For Indians who are averse to paperwork, this surely is not an ideal situation. But it’s an important step towards better security.

e-mail: [email protected]

November 4, 2017

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Renting to Foreigners: Know the Law”

  1. What a world says:

    The author of this column should spend some time to investigate to find out why these many foreign students arrive in India and in Mysore. I as an outsider now, but have seen this before in India, can shine light onto this . This is important, as these foreign students simply do not apply to come to Indian universities and colleges, out of their own volition. There is 6 decades of history here. Indian governments are resposnsible for creating this problem of foreign students influx in each of these decades.
    India somehow thinks that it has world class higher education system and that unlike the Western countries, it can help the “neglected” Africa and Middle East countries to get their young students educated in this so called world class higher educational institutions in India.
    The delusion of providing world class education started back in 1950s. when the then PM Nehru in his championship of the so called non-aligned movement went around the third world countries, meeting leaders in Africa and offering to help to develop their countries’ economy ! A part of this was providing higher education for their students. We then saw quite a few African students arriving in Maharaja’s College with plenty of money in their pockets, throwing parties and doing everything else except studying, as they knew that the College cannot possibly fail them! They were right!!
    The path set by Nehru continued. During the successive regimes of prime minsters, to assert that India is indeed a developed country in terms of higher education, this folly continued. In Mrs Gandhi’and Rajiv Gandhi’s regime, the attention was focused on the Middle East, particularly on the Palestine refugees, as they were friends with Yassir Arafat, offering them higher education facilities in India. Mysore took, a generous quota of them as central government money was the sweetener, and these students rented expensive houses, enjoyed partying, never attended classes, failed their exams but still got their degrees, including engineering degrees,and happily off they went!
    The late Kalam, was a pioneer in boasting the world class quality of India higher education system; when he was the president, in foreign shores of these African countries, he would boast that the space age India can indeed help these developing counties which were neglected by the West. He would highlight the strides made in the space exploration and technological developments in India, and would offer India’s help in the areas of higher education and training. Thus a few thousands of these students landed in India.
    I saw no change in this attitude by the current PM, and by the recently retired President of India. Whilst the former has two faces-one is looking towards Google and Apple , meeting the CEOs in his frequent visits to the US, and seek their help to usher in Digital India, the other is looking at other developing countries in Africa and Middle East offering to help them to educate their students in the oft-repeated world class higher educational institutions in India!
    Hence, the influx is foreign students will not stop, and the problems associated with renting them accommodation will not go away. Add to this, the greedy and get rich quick mentality of Indians, to make the problems much worse.
    Finally, it is ironic that Indian students themselves do not see a world class quality higher education system, opting to apply to any 3rd or 4th tier US universities, thanks to their rich parents! Hundreds of thousands of applications from Indian students are received every year by the English-speaking countries of the West. They in turn create similar problems in the foreign shores-for example In Australia, where we see them creating ghettos, playing loud music and attracting the wrath of local people, and in some cases with dire consequences. These Indian students overstay their visas, becoming illegal immigrants-hundreds of thousands of them in major Western countries like US, Australia, UK and Canada. They are in the main agenda item in talks between India and these Western countries.

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