Sudhanshu Ranade

Chennai, Jan. 5

ACCORDING to Census 2001 data, 66.8 per cent of urban households owned the houses they dwelt in; a notch above even the largest `other asset' (TV sets, owned by 64.3 per cent of urban households).

The difference may seem slight, but it assumes significant proportions when one allows for the enormous difference between the value of even the most modest urban dwelling and the cost of a TV set.

The news sounds much too good to be true. But is convenient, in as much as it ensures that the number of rented houses is not an underestimate. Of the 15 million urban households living in rented premises, more than 77 per cent (about 12 million) occupied one or two rooms. In contrast, only 3 million, one fifth of the total, occupied three rooms or more. It is no doubt interesting that there is a latent, as yet unmet, demand for at least 3 million housing units in the latter category.

Far more interesting, however, is the possibility that the demand for house loans for 1-2 room dwelling units may in rupee terms equal or even exceed the demand for larger dwellings.

Oddly enough, in the case of both owned and rented houses in urban areas, the number of households with six rooms and above exceeded the number having five rooms.

For households, which reportedly owned their dwellings, the respective figures are 25,844 and 18,875. In the case of rented houses, 79,771 households occupied six rooms or more, while 70,852 had to rest content with five.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 6, 2005)
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