Decline of Rental Housing in India

A Case Study of Mumbai

+ Sahil Gandhi, Vaidehi Tandel, Shirish Patel, Abhay Pethe, Kabir Agarwal, Sirus Joseph Libeiro


Rental housing in India has witnessed a significant decline over the years. This could be attributed to various reasons including the nature of the rent control laws. The rent control law in Mumbai has created a shortfall in formal, affordable rental housing and, at a broader level, has contributed to the distortions in the land market. The nature of the ‘first generation’ rent control in Mumbai is such that it has led to the deterioration of the existing rental housing stock and virtually halted the construction of new housing for rental for the city. It has also given rise to informal practices such as ‘pagdi’ or key money. This paper assesses the impact of rent control for Mumbai. In particular, it analyzes the spatial concentration and composition of rent controlled tenements in the city. It then proposes reforms that would allow a gradual move towards rationalized rent controls. It argues that second generation controls will help incentivize investments in the rental housing segment and hence reduce the demand pressure on the housing market at large, with implications for prices and affordable housing in particular.


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Sahil Gandhi is a Consultant at Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and was previously a Ph.D. scholar at Department of Economics, University of Mumbai.

Vaidehi Tandel is Associate Vice President at IDFC Foundation.

Shirish Patel is a civil engineer and urban planner, one of the three original authors of the idea of New Bombay, who was in charge of the new city’s planning, design and execution for its first five years.

Abhay Pethe is Chair Professor, Vibhooti Shukla Centre, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai.

Kabir Agarwal is Researcher at the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai.

Sirus Joseph Libeiro is a Research Associate at ICRIER and was previously a Research Scholar at Department of Economics, University of Mumbai.

Header image by A Kap via Flickr.

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