Finding the right kind of accommodation in Mumbai in terms of budget, taste and practicality can prove difficult for expats. The bustling financial capital of India is known for its prolific film industry, heavy rains and cricket fanaticism, but it’s equally reputed for being one of India’s most expensive real-estate markets, both in terms of buying and renting. 

Unless expats plan on relocating to Mumbai for the long term, most people opt to rent property rather than buy.


Types of accommodation in Mumbai

The city is notoriously short on space, and most expats are forced to sacrifice their notions of a lavish Indian bungalow in exchange for a cramped Mumbai apartment. Many flats in the city are small studio apartments or units with two or at most three bedrooms.

Serviced apartments are popular with younger expats, those on shorter assignments, or those newcomers who want something temporary while they look for more permanent accommodation.

Individual houses and villas are available, but demand is high, supply is low and prices are steep and rising.

Unfurnished, semi-furnished and furnished accommodation are all available. So, while shipping and removals is an option, those who would prefer not to bubble wrap their best china don’t necessarily need to. Landlords in Mumbai are often also happy to furnish a property at a tenant’s request, though this will come at a slightly higher rental cost.


Finding accommodation in Mumbai

Some expats moving to or living in this city are lucky enough to have accommodation arranged for them by their employer. In this case, contractual obligations are not relevant, and the hassle of house hunting is thankfully avoided. That said, the inclusion of this perk in relocation packages is becoming quite rare and finding one's own home in Mumbai is becoming a necessity for many.

Expats who find themselves in this situation are advised to hire a real-estate agent. These service providers can simplify the process and make sure that the property satisfies all elements of a due diligence test. Estate agents can also advise expats on popular areas and neighbourhoods in Mumbai.

Alternatively, those searching for an apartment on their own can use one of the many available print or digital listings and online property portals, including 99acres.com, Makaan and MagicBricks. 


Renting accommodation in Mumbai

In a city with such high rental prices, expats must familiarise themselves with aspects of the rental agreement including deposits, utility charges and notice periods.

Leases

Lease agreements in India can be tricky. To side step tax, some landlords may try to rent to people informally with no official lease in place. Such arrangements are illegal – any rental agreement must be detailed in a lease signed by both parties. Eleven-month leases are common, as rental agreements for 12 months or longer must be officially registered, which requires paying stamp duty and registration fees.

Deposits

In the past, landlords have been known to charge high deposits, sometimes anywhere from six to 11 months' worth of rent. This practice is no longer legal, with new legislation stipulating that deposits can be no more than two months' worth of rent.

Utilities

Utility expenses are normally borne by the tenants; this includes electricity, water and any maintenance charges. 

Notice periods

Tenants and landlords must give and be given notice if either party wishes to terminate the lease early. Notice must be given at least three months in advance.

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