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|Nikhilesh Sinha – Nikhilesh Sinha is currently a PhD Researcher at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL. His doctoral research explores the dynamics of rental sub-markets in low-income settlements in Hyderabad, India. He was trained in Economics at the Universities of Pune and Hyderabad in India and was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar of Law & Economics at the Universities of Hamburg (Germany) and Bologna (Italy). In 2014, he became the first Hyderabad Urban Lab Fellow. As a Fellow at HUL, he is seeking to further his own research on Rental Housing while also consulting on and contributing to HUL’s Housing Rights Project.|
Nikhilesh’s Research – His Ph.D research project is titled “An Institutional Analysis of Rental Housing Transactions in Low Income Settlements in New and Old Hyderabad“.
The aim of this research is to deepen our understanding of the ways in which poor tenants and landlords find each other and transact in cities of the third world, through a study of two low-income settlements in Hyderabad, India. The project will throw light upon the formal and informal institutions and networks that shape transactions between landlords and tenants. The crucial role that rental housing plays in the shelter strategy of the poor in third world cities has largely been neglected by policy makers and scholars alike, although there has been some attempt to address these gaps in the last few decades. Amongst the most significant gaps in our knowledge, concern the ways in which landlords and tenants find each other, the kinds of agreements or contracts that they form and what holds these agreements in place. These questions are particularly interesting in the context of Indian cities where a majority of tenants (84%) do not have a written contract.
India’s cities are growing at a tremendous rate (at a decadal growth rate of 32%), fuelled in part by rural-urban migration exacerbated by the decline of rural livelihoods, and the question of shelter for the urban poor is one that looms large. The government’s response has been ineffective, to say the least, and some of this failure can be attributed to the focus on promoting home-ownership at the expense of rental tenure. The project gains significance in light of the seeming willingness of policy makers to consider rental-housing alternatives for the first time, as evidenced by the recently launched Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) Guidelines. This research represents an opportunity to explore existing forms of rental arrangements, and ways in which low-income rental ‘markets’ function at a time when the policy discourse has acknowledged the relevance of rental tenure, and when policy makers may be open to considering its implications.