Choki Wangmo

The government decided to defer repayment of all types of loans availed by the people for the next three months in the face of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 in the country. This has, however, put landlords in a conundrum.

A landlord in Thimphu wanted to waive off or reduce house rent for his four tenants. He is not sure how to go about doing this because not every tenant is directly affected.

Two of the four tenants have businesses related to the tourism sector.

“I can waive off rent for the directly affected tenants and reduce by 50 or 30 percent for those indirectly affected depending on the situation,” he said.

He said that loan deferment had no impact on landlords who did not have to have to worry about repayment and so there might not be reduction or reason for waiving off of rent.

Another landlord said that she was making arrangements for the tenants working in the tourism sector. “I am planning to completely waive off  house rent for them in the next three months and about 25-30 percent for others who are also affected indirectly by the Covid-19.”

The tenants who are civil servants, she said, would not be given such choices and options.

A landlord, Ugyen Chewang, in his Facebook wrote: “Inspired by His Majesty’s address to the nation, my family will waive off 50 percent of the house rent for our directly affected tenants and 30 percent for those indirectly affected April to June.”

Many landlords Kuensel talked to are facing a similar dilemma. They want to reduce or waive off house rents but by what margin and for who is not yet clear. They say that there should be a clear directive.

For instance, a civil servant who is not directly affected by the pandemic owns a building and also gets his regular salary. With the loan deferred, he is doubly benefitted. Many netizens have expressed the need to reduce the certain percentage of house rent.

One of the Facebook users wrote: “Consider reduction only if the tenants are not in position to do work, like single feeding mothers, disabled individuals or older people and those whose source of income is cut due to Covid-19.”

A senior freelance guide, Tashi Chedup, said that he could not pay rent for the last months and had requested his landlord to give time until he was able to pay. He has three children and as a sole bread earner in the family, he is worried about the future, as the owner has not said anything about waiving off the rent.

“The situation has become awkward,” he said.

Darjay, a freelance guide, said that he is very worried.

“I have business ideas but it is difficult without money,” Darjay said.

Meanwhile, Royal Monetary Authority Governor, Dasho Penjor on television last week said that those who benefit from the waiver on the interests or the deferment of the loans could help those more needy persons around them.

Dasho Penjor who is also the chairperson of the special team formed to formulate the responses to Covid-19 indicated that each Bhutanese has the moral responsibility to share the benefits derived from the Kidu interest waiver on loans and deferrals.

RMA officials are meeting with the financial institutions later today to share the details of implementation.