Centres have not been able to pay rents for more than eight months

Nima | Gelephu 

For the owners of nightclubs, drayangs and karaoke in Gelephu, returning to business has become challenging with most of them losing space and properties to landlords.

Entertainment  business owners have been asked to either vacate the place or pay the rents they have been behind for so long. 

Most of the entertainment centres have not been able to pay the rent for more than eight months, as businesses had to close due to Covid-19. 

Karma, owner Lugar Karaoke, said that landlords were even threatening to seize business properties. 

“ I am behind Nu 150,000 in rent already,” said Karma.  

There are 14 entertainment centres in Gelephu.  

Another Karaoke owner said it would leave the entertainment business owners if landlords decided to seize the business properties. 

Last year the government allowed the centres to operate  bar  with strict safety measures, according to an official from the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Regional Secretary with BCCI, Kelzang, said there was no solution to this situation facing the entertainment business owners.  

“The entertainment centres expect us to facilitate rent waiver but we don’t have the authority to do that. There is no such directive,” he said. 

He added that building owners were also struggling with loans. 

Sonam Tshering, a lawyer based in Thimphu, in his weekly opinion in Kuensel last week, said that many countries had issued a temporary ban including criminal penalties on residential evictions to combat the pandemic’s effect. “The news of possible evictions and an increase in house rents particularly with no sign of easing lockdown is a grave concern.  The slogan of stay home, stay safe would be defeated unless the government issues immediate suspension of any form of eviction.” 

A house owner, Thinley, said the most affected were the landlords in this situation. “There is no other source of income for landlords.”