Happy Independence Day, Women! It's Easier To Own A Home In India Today
When India became Independent 72 years ago, women's right to own property was less secure than it is today. Women were rarely home owners. They hardly owned commercial real estate in India. However, this has changed over the decades. Banks and financial institutions notice that women are often applicants or co-applicants of home loans in India. As India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day, let us examine how the socio-economic status of women has changed:
- Before the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, a female heir had only a limited claim to an estate. However, under Section 14 of the Act, women were granted the right to acquire and hold property as absolute owners. Since then, daughters were granted the right to a claim to their fathers' estates.
- In 1961, the government passed a law giving women the right to sue their husbands and their families, if they were harassed over dowry. However, this law is largely ignored by women and society in general. According to Washington-based National Women's Law Centre data, every hour a woman is killed in India in a dowry-related dispute.
- Women in Jammu and Kashmir can now buy real estate and transfer property to their children, even if they get married to a non-resident as Article 35A has automatically become void with the scrapping of Article 370. The government of India abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
- A significant fraction of the land in India is tilled by women. However, women's rights in such a property are vague due to the lack of a clear definition. In the recent past, there have been some efforts to grant property titles to women, who till the land.
- According to the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005, daughters can claim equal rights in the ancestral property acquired by their fathers themselves. They will also have the right to coparcenary property held by their father. With this, gender discrimination against women on matters related to property is eradicated to a large extent.
- Today, leading banks offer low-interest rates for home loans to women, if they are applicants or co-applicants of the same. For instance, State Bank of India charges a woman a home loan interest rate of 9.70 per cent, while for men the charge is 9.85 per cent. Banks are also more willing to lend to women, because they are more dependable borrowers. They pay their EMIs (easy monthly instalments) on time and are less likely to default on home loans.
- The government plans to build homes for everyone by 2022. It also insists that a mother or a wife should either be the sole owner or the co-owner of affordable homes. This is to financially empower women, who belong to economically weaker sections (EWS) and lower-income groups (LIG).
- Women's right to own property matters a lot, especially in developing countries such as India. Data show children are more likely to perform better, health-wise and in their learning process, when their mothers own property. Let us hope that in the next few decades, female ownership of real estate in India would rise.
In order to promote property ownership amongst women, many states are offering a discount or a partial waiver on stamp duty for buyers who are registering their property in a woman's name.
Stamp duty charges
|State||For men||For women|
|Jharkhand||7%||Only Re 1|
|Haryana||6% in rural|
8% in urban
|4% in rural|
6% in urban
|UP||7%||Rebate of Rs 10,000 on overall charges|
|West Bengal||5% in rural|
6% in urban
(Plus 1% if property cost is >Rs 40 lakhs)
|Jammu & Kashmir||5%||3%|
Note: Charges are indicative and subject to change
With additional inputs from Surbhi Gupta