Nima Wangdi

An increasing number of tenants living in rented apartments in major urban centres said that landlords are increasing the monthly rents out of turn and beyond the permissible limit of 10 percent in some cases.

The Tenancy Act of Bhutan, 2015 states that the increment of the rent shall not exceed 10 percent of the monthly rent. “The owner shall not increase the rent before two years from the day on which a tenant occupies the house.”

A tenant, living in Changbagdu said that she received a notice from her house owner saying that the house rent will be increased by Nu 1,500 lump sum. The notice also provided an option for the tenants to move out before the rent increased if they don’t want to pay the increased rent.

Another resident said house rent had increased by more than 20 percent. He was also asked to think if he wants to continue living in the same apartment paying the increased rent or move out.

Tenants said that some house owners are increasing more than 10 percent of the house rents claiming to have not increased during the pandemic. “This is unfair,” she said.

Tenants did not want to reveal their identities as they could be asked to move out of the apartments if the house owners knew.

“We have to live under the mercy of the house owners given the housing shortage in Thimphu,” another tenant said.

Some residents said that the house rent hike was triggered by the talks about the government’s salary revision. People said they knew this was coming and it is here already.

Sonam, a corporate employee, said that uncontrolled house rent in the country is the main factor that forces people to go abroad. She said that most of the young people, who have just found a job, can barely survive in places like Thimphu.

“Many of my civil servant friends pay more than half their monthly income as rent in Thimphu,” a tenant said. “The house rent is killing us.”

Given the present trend, only the house owners will grow rich and all the youth will leave for abroad.

Given the situation, the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement issued an executive order requesting all the building owners to abide by the tenancy Act of Bhutan 2015. The building owners are also reminded to submit tenancy agreements to the respective implementing agencies.

The implementing agencies and the local governments are also asked to ensure that the house rents are revised as per the tenancy agreements.

The tenants are also asked to file cases with their respective local governments in case of illegal increases in house rents. Tenants can also contact MoWHS in case implementing agencies fail to monitor.

“Failure to implement the provisions of the Act will be an omission of responsibility imposed by the law and will be held accountable,” the executive order stated.