Overview of urban house ownership in India


The pattern of house ownership in India varies significantly between rural and urban areas. As against 95% in rural areas, only 69% of the total households in India own houses. This pattern is not surprising as a large share of the total urban population are migrants. This note provides an overview of the house ownership in urban India.
By  |  February 19, 2021

The pattern of house ownership in India varies significantly between rural and urban areas. As against 95% in rural areas, only 69% of the total households in India own houses. This pattern is not surprising as a large share of the total urban population are migrants.

As per the Census definition, a household owns a house if it does not make any payments in the form of rent to anyone. Similarly, a household owning a flat is considered as owning a house even if the total loan amount is not paid.

According to the 2011 Census, house ownership varies across states and by city size. The chart below shows that the three south Indian states (Tamil Nadu, undivided Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) have much lower house ownership in urban areas than the national average.


Note: This figure is limited to 17 states with more than 10 lakh urban households.

The following chart which provides the variation in house ownership by city-size shows that house ownership in larger cities with more than 40 lakh households is much lower than other urban areas.

Migration is often considered as household strategy in coping with uncertainty. As a result, most of the time few members of the households migrate while others stay at the origin. This pattern is emerging from census data as the average household size of the rented households is much lesser than the owned households, as seen in the figures below. It also shows that the average dwelling rooms in rented households is much smaller than the owned households. While part of this could be due to smaller size in rented households, affordability of houses in urban areas could be another reason. It is also important to note that house ownership itself does not necessarily correlate with amenities.

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