Thukten Zangpo

With lockdowns imposed in different parts of the country, some house owners or landlords are waiving rents ranging from 30 to 100 percent.

While most tenants expected house owners, who availed loan interest waivers, to reduce rent, only a few house owners did.

Beneficiaries are posting the rent waiver notifications on social media and netizens are expressing appreciation.

A landlord in Gelephu waived 50 percent of the house rent to his tenants for January this year.

The owner, Jamtsho, said that as per the tenancy agreement, he could have increased the rent by 10 percent from January, but because of the worsening Covid-19 situation, he is waiving the rent.

“Although my building is new, it is very comfortable to give rent concessions because of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu of 50 percent interest payment waiver. I think all the landlords and building owners can do so,” he said.

He said that it is a good precedent if the landlords can give rent concessions to their tenants. “I received calls from friends, who own buildings, that they are also planning to give a rent concession.”

A restaurant owner in Changzamtok, Bishnu, said she received a 50 percent rent waiver in December last year during the lockdown and was expecting it this time too.

She pays a monthly rent of Nu 18,500 for her restaurant.

A taxi driver, Wangchuk said that the lockdown has immensely affected his business, and managing the household expenditures is difficult during this lockdown.  “I would request the landlords to waive or defer the rent.”

Similarly, the Regional Secretary of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gelephu, Kelzang said that it would be beneficial for the tenants if the landlords could waive the rents, especially during the lockdown, since most of the residents in Gelephu depend on businesses.

A civil servant said that while house owners benefited from the interest waiver and loan deferment schemes, the benefits did not trickle down to tenants as was expected. “Authorities did not make it mandatory to reduce house rent. It was left as a moral responsibility,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering also praised the property owners and landlords who voluntarily offered monthly rental concessions for the tenants through the ministry’s notification issued on January 30.

“Such acts of unity exemplify our unique effort to curtail the pandemic together,” he said.

The notification also stated that any amount of rental waiver extended to the tenants during the particular income year shall not be considered as the income for the purpose of filing personal income tax returns.