Bombay's reputation as the most expensive place in the world to rent an office is exposed as largely a myth in a report published in London. According to Jeff Marsh, author of The myths and realities of the Bombay office market , plentiful cheap office space is available. He said commercial rents could be as low as 10 per cent of those quoted in surveys two years ago, when Bombay became infamous as the most expensive place in the world in which to rent an office. Top annual rents of more than GBP100 (about HK$1,260) per sq ft were quoted in a report published by international property consultancy Richard Ellis in 1995. These dropped 20 per cent in 1996, but the city still had the highest office occupancy costs in the world. However, these figures hid the existence of a large supply of cheaply priced properties which were available in 1995 and remain available, Mr Marsh said. 'Western-standard offices are readily available in Bombay at sensible prices - GBP10 to GBP33 per square foot in efficient business locations - if you know where to look,' he said. The report, published by India Property Research, shows that two buildings - one with central air-conditioning - were offering space at the end of last year for 50 rupees (about HK$11.05) per square foot, and even cheaper rates were available in industrial buildings. British Airways was part renting office space for 40 rupees per sq ft at a single-storey industrial building at the Godrej Estate in Vikhroli. The most expensive office properties are at Nariman Point, the focus of previous surveys on the Bombay office market. Here, tenants were charged up to 450 rupees per square foot per year for office space at Maker Chambers, a prime location with an excellent frontage, Mr Marsh said. Although rents often may be lower than previously thought, however, tenants are asked to place big deposits. Again Nariman Point is the most expensive, with tenants asked to pay rent up to five years in advance, or 70 million rupees, at the end of last year. The cheapest deposits - of six months rent - were charged for 400 sq ft offices at Bonanza on Andheri Kurla Road, an emerging commercial location near the Sahar International Airport. Mr Marsh, who is managing director of India Property Research, said there was no grade A standard office accommodation available in Bombay, only grade B and C. Companies seeking up to 10,000 sq ft of grade B accommodation ought to have relatively little difficulty finding it, he said. Anything larger becomes harder. Some of Bombay's office buildings date from colonial times, but there are also plenty of post-war offices available. The report reveals which international firms have offices in Bombay. Territory firms include Hongkong Bank, Hutchison Whampoa, Jardine Fleming and Peregrine. Previous researchers were correct about the high costs of renting luxury residential accommodation in Bombay, Mr Marsh said, citing rents up to 500,000 rupees per month and deposits of up to seven years' rent in advance. Landlords of commercial and residential property ask for large deposits because of complications arising from the Bombay Rent Act of 1947, an arcane law which the government has promised to repeal within six months. Mr Marsh found low-rent office accommodation by surveying nine other business districts, in addition to Nariman Point, which previous researchers had neglected to cover. Mr Marsh's team studied the market for two years to produce its 77-page report on the city, sometimes using unorthodox research methods. These included sending an attractive young woman to question building management staff, who were otherwise reluctation to offer information to strangers. Early buyers of the report include Richard Ellis and fellow international property consultancy Jones Lang Wootton.