CHENNAI: Avaricious brokers and argumentative middlemen can take a walk: Prospective tenants are logging on to find houses the easy way.
An increasing number of portals and social media pages for 'house hunting' has made it relatively hassle-free for people migrating to the city to find a place on rent. With no interference of brokers, many house hunters are able to choose from a variety of locations, type of house, facilities, proximity to work place. What's more, direct negotiation with the owner makes the deal fair.
Ashok Raj, an IT professional in Velachery who found an apartment on a website, said: "I changed my house three times in the last two years. I had to pay commission to brokers every time. But this time I got a place without much trouble," he said.
Brokers charge a month's rent as their commission, which many young people find moving into the city unaffordable. "I've been searching for a house for a few months. I approached a broker, but I wasn't happy with any of the houses he took me to. I spent a lot of money on travel and the broker's expenses. Now I am searching online. Though there are a lot of options, the rent of houses mentioned on the websites continues to be on the higher side," said Ramesh Kumar, a college student.
On Facebook, many community pages work as guides to places on rent. Santhosh K Subramanian, who started a Facebook group named 'What Veedu' has brought together more than 3,500 members. "We have been getting about 30 posts every day. The group has become a platform for tenants and owners to directly interact with each other. Members can view pictures of houses and interact with owners at no cost," said Subramanian.
Brokers are not giving up. Some of them have placed advertisements on these portals and social networking sites. "I saw an advertisement on a portal about a rented house in Adyar. But when I contacted the person, he turned out to be a broker," said Malathy Krishnan, a working woman in Adyar. "Most hostels in the city charge exorbitant rates without providing quality food or amenities. But I don't have the money to pay a broker and rent an apartment. So I've been searching for a roommate to share the rent," she said.
A broker in Anna Nagar said he continued to make money. "If I get two or three high paying clients, my month is made. The demand for houses is always high in the city. But if tenants start interacting with owners directly, people like me may be in trouble soon."