The hostel model of business is turning out to be a highly profitable venture as India’s youth is increasingly flocking to the cities for educational and employment pursuits. These individuals, who are mostly bachelors, students or working citizens, require a convenient mode of accommodation, which is now rendered through hostel facilities of various kinds. While entrepreneurs may choose from a wide range of options offered by this segment, this article particularly deals with the norms for starting a women’s hostel and procedure for obtaining hostel license in Tamil Nadu.
The norms for initiating and running a women’s hostel or home is provided in The Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Act, 2014. The Act regulates the functioning of hostels, lodging houses, homes for women and children and matters connected therewith.
The Tamil Nadu State regulations prohibit the establishment, maintenance or operation of any hostel, lodging house or home for women and children in the absence of a license issued under the Act. Any person desirous of such a pursuit is therefore required to file an application for the license to the Collector of the respective district. The application must be duly supported by a fee which wouldn’t be more than Rs. 3,000.
The Collector may decide for or against granting the license. If granted, the license will be valid for a period of three years after which it can be renewed. If not, the Collector needs to provide reasons for its rejection in writing.
Contents of a License
A license for this purpose comprises of:
- The name and location of the hostel.
- The name of the manager or resident manager.
- The nature of the hostel.
- The minimum standards pertaining to lodging, sanitation, health and hygiene and other conditions and particulars as may be prescribed.
Basic Licensing Prohibitions
A license holder is prohibited from performing the following acts without obtaining prior permission from the respective Collector:
- Change the name or location of the hostel.
- Modify the purpose of any service specified in the license.
- Increase the number of inmates to be admitted by the hostel.
An application for license renewal must be made at least three months prior to the expiry of the initial license. Delays, if any, would be condoned on valid grounds provided the application for the same is filed before the date of expiry of license.
Cancellation and Suspension of License
The concerned district collector may cancel a license on the following grounds:
- The license has been availed by misrepresentation or fraud.
- The licensee has contravened or hasn’t complied with any of the provisions, rules or terms and conditions of the Act.
- The management of the hostel is conducted in an unsatisfactory manner or is performed in a manner which is highly prejudicial to the moral and physical well-being of the inmates.
- The hostel has rendered itself unsuitable for the purpose.
Some Important Notes:
- The licensee is entitled to an opportunity of being heard prior to such cancellation.
- The Collector may suspend a license for any of the aforementioned reasons by furnishing a written statement in this regard
- If any person is aggrieved by the Collector’s order for cancellation or suspension of license, he/she may file an appeal to the Government or to any other authority as may be specified by it in this behalf.
Surrender of License
A licensee who intends to wind up a hostel may apply for the withdrawal of the license granted in respect of the particular hostel. This must be done by issuing a notice to the concerned District Collector before six months of the proposed withdrawal.
Registration of Homes for Women
Every home for women and children, including women’s hostels, must be registered with the Act within the prescribed period. For this purpose, the owner or manager of the home must file an application to the Collector, who will issue a certificate of registration in the prescribed form and manner. Homes managed by the government are exempted from these rules.
Appointment of Manager
All lodging homes established for this purpose must function with a manager, who in this case must be a woman. If no such managers are appointed, the person who lets the premises for accommodation will be considered as a manager, again provided she is a woman.
The manager sop appointed is obligated by these provisions to render a fitness certificate to the owner of the premises. The certificate must be issued and attested by a Medical Officer, who is not ranked below a Civil Surgeon. Moreover, the owner of the premises is required to conduct a verification of the manager with the local police before finalizing her appointment. The latest Governmental rules provide that there shall be one manager or resident manager for every fifty inmates.
Functions of a Hostel Manager
The owner or manager of a hostel, lodging house or home for women and children is endowed with the following responsibilities:
- Maintenance of appliances, fixtures and fittings in the building.
- Ensure the premises are free from any accumulation of refuse, foul matter or undesirable growth.
- Ensure adequate lighting and ventilation of the premises.
- Provision and maintenance of facilities such as artificial lighting, emergency lighting and adequate fire extinguishers as prescribed under the relevant laws.
- The provision of suitable storage areas to facilitate the storage of refuse, waste or rubbish before its final disposal.
- Accommodation of the appropriate number of inmates in a room.
- Notify the inspector where any of the inmates are suffering from a communicable disease and initiate the essential recommended proceedings.
Prohibitions of a Manager
Powers are often intermingled with restrictions, as is the case here. The manager or resident manager of such homes are prohibited from:
- Storing, keeping or allowing any kerosene, petrol, spirit or other explosive or flammable substances inside the premises.
- Causing or permitting the cause of any obstructions in any flight of stairs, passage or other means of escape.
Usage of Approved Building
The hostel must be housed in a building which has been approved by the competent authority of the relevant law, who as we know in this case, is the District Collector. If the premise holds more than fifty inmates, closed-circuit television or a digital video recorder shall be installed at all entry and exit points.
Appointment of Security Personnel
As a matter of apparent compulsion, the appropriate number of security personnel must be appointed in every hostel, lodging house or home for women and children to provide round-the-clock security to the inmates. Such an appointment must be preferably made from among the ex-servicemen, retired police officers and home guards who are not aged above fifty years. As in the case with the appointment of the manager, each security personnel shall be appointed after verifying his/her antecedents with the local police. The appointed guards must be assigned to every entry and exit points of the hostel. However, they are not permitted to enter the building without the permission of the manager or resident manager.
Note: Boys and girls must be housed in separate buildings. However, in exceptional circumstances, they can be lodged in separate rooms.
Maintenance of Register
Every hostel established for this purpose needs to maintain a visitor’s register, wherein details such as name, address, and purpose of the visit of all visitors is stored. The manager or resident manager is held accountable for this task.
Reporting of Incidents
In the event of any untoward incident which has its bearing on the body, mind or property of any inmate of the hostel, the manager of such premise needs to report the same to the jurisdictional police and the concerned district Collector by substantiating the incidents and circumstances leading to such incident, to the best of her knowledge.
Offences and Penalties
- If any hostel is being operated without obtaining a license under these provisions, the owner of the hostel will be punished with a term of imprisonment which can be as high as two years and a fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees.
- If a hostel owner hasn’t registered the premise within the prescribed period, he/she would be imposed with a term of imprisonment that is similar to the above-mentioned provision.
- For any other offences, the concerned person will be incarcerated for a period of two years (extendable to three years). Repeated offences of the same nature could force the person to face imprisonment for at least three years (may extend to five years). Also, in the case of the latter, a fine of Rs. one lakh will be imposed on the concerned person.
- If an offence has been committed by a company, the person who was responsible for the company’s affairs during such period will be considered guilty for the offence along with the company itself. Therefore, such a person will be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Power to Inspect
The concerned District Collector is entitled to enter and inspect any hostel at a reasonable time to ensure that the provisions of the Act are being complied with. Upon inspection, the authority may demand the production of any document, register or record to be aware of any information connected with the functioning of the institution.
Note: The Collector or any other officer authorized for this purpose must be accompanied with two respected women from the locality.