Thinley Namgay    

While many house owners are waiving rent for tenants amid the pandemic, there are also some who have increased it, making it difficult for economically disadvantaged people.

A tenant in Paro said his house owner increased the rent from Nu 8,000 to 10,000 in January of this year.

The tenants were notified on December 5 about the increase.

“It was a 25 percent increase,” the tenant said. “What my house owner did was also unlawful, as the law allows only a 10 percent increment.”

He cited Section 25 of the Tenancy Act, which states that the owner should not increase the rent before two years from the day on which the tenant occupies the house. “The owner was supposed to increase only Nu 800 as per the section.”

According to the tenant, there are seven tenants in the building, who are mostly from lower-income groups and do not understand the law.

He also said the owner does not provide a rent receipt. “Maybe the owner is not giving the receipt to exempt himself from the tax. For us, the receipt is important while filing the personal income tax and applying for kidu.”

Another tenant of the building, who is a civil servant, said he is the lone bread earner in the family and he doesn’t earn much. “When they increase rents like this, it impacts my family’s livelihood.”

He claimed he stayed in the building for only five months when the rent was increased. “We also requested that the owner consider the circumstances, but he turned a deaf ear.”

According to the civil servant, the pandemic has made life difficult for many, but house owners, who are receiving loan waiver benefits, are increasing rents exponentially. “The owner is also refusing to make an agreement letter and we cannot force them, since we need a place to stay.”

Similarly, a house owner at Taba, Thimphu, has also increased the rent recently.

A tenant also said that although the rent was increased according to the law, as they pay Nu 10,000 as rent, it comes at a wrong time for tenants, when house owners are benefitting from loan repayment policies.

“Benefits to the house owners are not passed to tenants, who are mostly from lower-income.”

Many tenants affected by the rent increase said they cannot complain because they need an apartment.