Landlord: Do you have a boyfriend?
Landlord: Well, if you do, he can’t come to the house.
Me (gauging my options): Okay.
I went on a house-hunting spree recently, and the dialogues above sum up the entire experience.
It’s 2019, so you’d think that finding a place to live should be easy. It is not; and we are talking about a city like Delhi, here.
As a single girl looking for a house, the experience has been rather traumatic for me, with landlords asking questions about my relationships point blank.
Sadly, it does not end there.
From my drinking to partying habits, from work to family, from timings of my job to my lifestyle – there isn’t a single thing that I have not been questioned about and that is just infuriating.
In my head, this is how the barter (or transaction) works: I give you the rent and you give me the place. That’s it.
Beyond that, everything works on mutual respect.
I am aware of my responsibilities of not creating a scene, not playing loud music, maintaining the hygiene of the place, being cordial with the neighbours.
However, it is a 2-way street and I want certain things in return. Privacy being the most important. I don’t want to be answerable about my timings, my clothes, my friends, my smoking and drinking habits, my sexuality, my partners.
While we are on the topic, let us address that being a heterosexual woman who is not from a marginalised community brings certain privileges for me in a society like ours.
I dread to imagine what someone who doesn’t identify themselves as heterosexual or belongs to a marginalised community, has to go through.
To begin with, they have fewer options and the ones there are, come at a high financial cost. Add to that the grilling interview on your personal life, and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety in young adults who are trying to make a life of their own.
Usually the negotiation set-up looks like this: Brokers and the landlord sit you down and start explaining you the so-called ‘terms’, which are totally dictated by them.
It’s a really intimidating situation, where you hardly have any say as the only woman in the room. They talk over you, repeatedly, and no effort of making your point materialises.
The house owner/landlord my colleague met, told her that he doesn’t care what job she does, she has to come back at a certain time. If she doesn’t, the doors will be closed.
This colleague is my senior looking after an entire team at work. Putting limitations on her like this, is not just disrespectful but also a way to tell her that her professional ambitions don’t matter for shit.