Informal Housing, Inadequate Property Rights: Understanding the Needs of India’s Informal Housing Dwellers

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In India, as in many other developing countries, urban population growth and the shortage of planned affordable housing have led to 26–37 million households (33–47 percent of the urban population) living in informal housing (slums and unauthorized housing). Informal housing residents usually have some basic services (such as electricity and water), but may lack proper roads, sewage, or drainage, and they also face the potential threat of demolition. 


Despite the different approaches adopted by the Indian government to help improve living conditions for informal housing dwellers, there has not been a sizeable impact. Acknowledging this, the report by FSG Mumbai, applies a property rights lens to understand the size and the needs of informal settlements to identify potential solutions to meet these needs. Given that the families living in informal housing are a vibrant socio-economic group and their needs and realities differ widely, this report classifies informal housing into three segments – insecure housing, transitional housing, and secure housing, and offers recommendations which are specific for improving the living conditions of existing informal housing dwellers in each of the three segments. The research focuses specifically on owner-occupants, since they are most likely to invest in improving their housing as they will benefit from these improvements—both as residents and as owners of the asset.