Government to launch new rental housing policy with rent vouchers for the urban poor

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Image Courtesy: Humara Bachpan

The government is all set to launch a new rental housing policy in 100 smart cities. The policy has been in works for the last 3 years but is likely to see the light of the day soon. The first component of that plan may well be rolled out in the next fiscal year.

The Rs 2700 crore new housing scheme specifically aimed at Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, would provide them rent vouchers that can be given to the landowners. While the policy has been worked on for the last three years, it is expected to be implemented in the 2017-18 financial year.

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Under this scheme, urban local bodies would distribute rent vouchers to the urban poor, consisting of migrant population. The tenants would give the voucher to their landowner, who can redeem it at citizen service bureaus. In case the rent is more than the voucher, the tenant would pay the remaining amount in cash to the landowner.

The urban local bodies would determine the value of the rent vouchers, based on the size of the household and the rent prevalent in the city. Upon implementation, the scheme is expected to cost Rs 2713 crore every year.

The government would also consider monetizing the properties confiscated under the Benami Properties Act, to provide rental housing options.

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“The recent implementation of the Benami Properties Act and rules open up another option for rental housing. An enabling provision would be inserted in the rules that houses confiscated by Central government which cannot be auctioned, could be let out by the Central government or through state governments as rental housing for the middle-income group (MIG), LIG and economically weaker section (EWS) depending on the suitability and location of such properties,” the official said.

“The rental voucher scheme is being looked at as a means to complement the Prime Minister Housing for All scheme,” said a senior official of the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry.

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The ministry would prepare a cabinet note to push forward this rental housing scheme.