Friday, January 18, 2013

Renting property in Pune

So, we're in the process of moving to Pune. We've looked at a lot of apartments and even a few bungalows and the process is frustrating. Now, I've been a landlord in the US and know the concerns of both the landlord and the renter, and here in India, the process is even more difficult. First, there is no universal listing system like we have in the States. You can't see another broker's listings without seeing that broker. We had four different brokers looking for properties.

The costs are ridiculous as well. To lease an apartment in Pune, you need a minimum of six month's rent as a security deposit (some want 12 months!), plus 2 month's broker's fees (from both the landlord AND the renter), and stamp duties and registration, which is not included as a portion of the rent. In addition, renters are expected to handle most maintenance costs, and any society maintenance fees, if applicable. Sometimes the landlord will also charge you for your parking spaces as well.

We've finalized on a little two story bungalow, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, with servants' quarters. It features solar water heating, ACs in the bedrooms and comes fully furnished (pretty much). It has a little front yard and a bigger backyard, which will be perfect for the puppies. It's a wonderful site, quiet, and the neighbors, while curious, seemed nice. It was calm, peaceful and I could really envision our living in this home happily. I'm hoping to move in as soon as possible.

As part of the process, a meeting is set up by the broker, where both parties meet to finalize the lease points and negotiate final prices. Our broker, a really professional gent (finally!), set this up at the hotel where the owner was staying. We were led out to the outdoor terrace where two young men were drinking beers and having a good time. The gent in the shiny shirt was clearly inebriated. When we were introduced, I was happy to learn that the quieter, sober gent was the landlord's son.

We all sat down, made introductions and I introduced my background, six years in India, experience in renting houses in four Indian cities... we discussed living in Mumbai as well. The landlord's son discussed his family, why they were renting the place, and the reason the property had been on the market for so long. Apparently the father had a long list of rules, like only renting to vegetarians. Now the son was taking over to get the property rented. We were lucky to come along at the right time.

At this point, shiny shirt had spilled a beer and had been interrupting the conversation repeatedly. From what I could gather, he was there to help the son negotiate a better deal. He was a bit arrogant, but overall, harmless.

My negotiation skills have improved over the years and I've learned to stop talking and let the other person pick it up. The original deal was 45,000 rupees a month with a 6 month deposit up front. I originally countered with 35,000 and 6 month deposit paid over a six month period. The initially agreed to talk. They countered with 35,000 with 6 months up front. Shiny shirt kept trying to get a full 12 months up front which I totally refused. I countered with 40,000, 3 months deposit over 6 months, alerting them to the fact that they were now making an additional 60,000 rupees for the first year. They finally agreed once I agreed to also pay the 2,000/month maintenance fee which also pays for the pool and gym at the clubhouse. That seemed fair.

The next step will be signing the lease and getting it registered at the property court, which is typically a full day deal, involving lawyers, standing at a desk and declaring your age (check), standing in another line to show your ID (check), then standing in another line to have a photo taken (check), have witnesses sign that you were the person standing there having your picture taken (check), getting fingerprinted (check), then you're done. The paperwork is completed within a few days. Last time, we watched a family enter the court with a Hindu priest who performed a puja (religious ceremony) to bless the new home owners. That was actually kind of cool. :-) Plus it relieved some of the boredom.

While the costs are high, compared to homes I've had in other cities, this is a standalone bungalow - no neighbors above me and no one staring at me as I enter my house, except maybe my next door neighbor... We're also keeping a house in Delhi at the moment, so our cost are double right now.

Shipping our personal effects won't be too bad since we don't have much. We have 2 very large aluminum shipping crates along with 2-3 cardboard boxes. The shipper estimates 22,000 to ship from Delhi to Pune. Everything is packed, padlocked, and ready to go. The biggest issue is moving the dogs. They'll have to fly.

Airline approved dog crates are VERY expensive here and the two I arrived with won't fit these two. We sold Grace's crate after she died to an expat who was taking her rescued stray back home with her to the UK. We investigated the costs at the pet shop in Khan Market, Delhi, and each crate will cost 6,000 rupees. Our roundtrip flights will cost us around 36,000, plus the costs for the pups as excess baggage. Totally worth it, considering the time to travel. Eunice is not a good road tripper. She'll either puke or poo every few miles while riding in a car. We thought about driving them down, but felt it would be better to bite bullet, pay the expenses and get them there in a couple of hours instead. Hopefully, they'll be okay.

As soon as we get a chance, we'll take photos of the house. It sorely needs a paint job, but we'll be putting it off. Due to the high ceilings and size, it would take at least a month to paint the house, and we can't wait that long to move in. If anyone can recommend a good store for purchasing a washing machine, please let me know. Other than that, I think we're in really good shape. :-)


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