After a long survey, #KhabarLive spoke to PG and hostel establishments as well as residents to gauge the situation as colleges and workplaces start to open up.

G Bhikshapathy, a retired private sector employee, owns a four-storey building in Hyderabad’s SR Nagar. The building is leased out to a tenant who runs a paying guest (PG) accommodation. According to the agreement, the building has been given on lease, rented out for Rs 1.2 lakh per month. When the pandemic-induced lockdown began, the tenant reached out to Bhikshapathy saying he would be able to pay only Rs 25,000 as opposed to the full amount, as most of the people staying in the PG had returned home. Fast forward to January 2021, 10 months later, and the tenant is still paying only Rs 25,000 a month. “The tenant continues to say he has no business. Next month I am planning to talk to him regarding increasing the rent being paid”, said Bhikshapathy.

This is not an isolated case; the story is the same in most PG accommodations and hostels in the city. Yes Win Executive men’s hostel is a PG accommodation in Gachibowli’s APHB (Andhra Pradesh Housing Board) Colony. Speaking to #KhabarLive, A Bharat Kumar said that he doesn’t plan on opening the PG anytime soon because there are hardly any takers yet. “I was paying a rent of 1.5 lakh to the owner. But I have been paying him only 20% rent for the last several months. He has been demanding at least 50% rent. I have been running the PG for the last four years. Most of the people staying in my PG were those working in IT companies in and around Gachibowli. Starting the PG at this point of time will mean more expenses than income.”

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According to Bharat Kumar, there are around 80 PGs and hostels in APHB colony. A majority of them haven’t opened up yet. “We do get inquiries once in a while, but with just a couple of people, it is a loss to run a PG”, said a disappointed Kumar.

24-year-old D Dheeraj used to stay in Yes Win Executive men’s hostel. He is a techie who works in an IT company in the same area. For the last 8 months, Dheeraj has been working from home. When asked about his plans to head back to the PG, he said, “My company has clearly said they don’t plan to open up the office until March 31. I am presently working from home.”

Suneetha K, who hails from Vijayawada, is another techie who is presently working from her hometown. She used to stay in a PG accommodation in Hyderabad. “My company has not informed employees about when they plan on returning to work. Even if they open up, it looks like they won’t insist that we go to the office. If given an option, I would prefer to stay back in Vijayawada and work”, she said. During the lockdown, the number of women staying in her hostel dropped from around 40 to around five. In July, she was the only resident in the entire hostel.

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Priya is a marketing executive working in Hyderabad. She hails from Andhra’s Anantapur and has been staying in a hostel in Himayatnagar for the last 10 years. She stayed back in the same hostel through the lockdown, as they didn’t shut down. “The hostel I am staying in had around 64 women before the lockdown. Now it has dropped to 25 people. To make up for the loss, they have increased the rent per person by Rs 500.”

The few hostels and PGs that have chosen to open up are those that have managed to get a decent number of people to stay. This is to ensure that the cost of running the PG is not more than the income generated from the business. V Govardhan Reddy is a bank employee who is presently staying in a hostel in Kukatpally Housing Board phase 1. As he works in a bank, he was working throughout the lockdown period. “The hostel I stayed in had around 100 men. Now many have returned. There are around 60 to 70 men in the hostel now.” When asked why people are returning to hostels despite most companies still offering a work-from-home option, Govardhan said, “The ones who have returned are those who are attending classes for competitive exams and those who don’t have infrastructure and network at their hometowns. There are many such people who prefer returning to the city because there is the internet and the facility to work comfortably from here.”

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While hostels and PG managements are eagerly waiting to open up and start from where they had left off, with colleges still shut and work from home still being the norm, owners are reluctant to take the risk of opening up. Only those who don’t have required facilities at home and network issues in their remote villages are choosing to come back to Hyderabad, despite the work-from-home option given by companies. #KhabarLive #hydnews