Tenants in and around Thimphu have literally requested their house owners for rental waiver due to drastic fall in daily sales and uncertainty of salary system faced by employees in the private sector. They hope for least a certain percentage waiver, which would help them in many ways. House owners somehow declined their requests with reasons of their own.
38-year-old Sonam runs a beauty parlor in Babesa. She said her business has been impacted a lot, making it difficult for her to earn enough to pay her house rents and meet the monthly expenses. She said, “I pay Nu 17,000 for my parlor and Nu 10, 500 for my apartment. When business was going well, I did not have problem but now the situation is worsening each month.”
With such issues, she said that she had requested the house owner for a rental exemption or at least for certain percentage off. However, the house owners have refused and said they have to pay their loans.
40-year-old Tshering Zam, who owns a hardware shop in Olokha said, “It is becoming difficult for us to pay our rent. I have to pay Nu 35, 000 in total per month. Until last month, we managed to pay from our savings. This month, I am not able to get even 50 percent of the rent because, I am running out of stock and I am not able to get items from Phuentsholing as well due to the India lockdown.”
She said that, as of now, the owner did not come to collect the rent and they are hoping that if the owner can exempt the house rent for people like them who are solely dependent on their small business.
Sunita Gurung, 30, runs a restaurant in Motithang. She said that she has requested the house owner for 50 percent rent exemption, but the owner refused saying they cannot do so until their loans are paid. She also runs a pan shop and the rent is Nu 5,000 per month.
“All the tenants in the building signed a letter asking for rental exemption. The owner at first said they will discuss and give certain percent exemption, however, they came to collect the rent as usual. Some of us failed to pay the rent and have asked for few days. I am not able to take out the rent this month,” she added.
Meanwhile, Deondon, a private employee residing in Motithang said that it is disheartening to see that house owners are not waiving off the rent just because their maximum tenants are civil servants.
He said, “We are not to be compared with civil servants. We earn less compared to them and if lockdown happens in Bhutan then we are not sure if we will get paid as usual. For that matter, it is always better to be prepared. If our rents are exempted, we can at least save that money for a worse situation.”
Another private employee, Dorji, said, “His Majesty The King has granted Kidu in various means to benefit the people. However, house owners are not able to understand our hardship at this period of time. We wish if they can exempt few percent at least. Our owner does not want to give even after our request.”
Tashi, a civil servant residing in Changzamtog shared that house owners should understand the situation, not considering if one is running a business, if one is private employee and if one is civil servant. “I would accept even if they do not waive mine, but they should really consider tenants who are private employees and who are dependent on businesses because we never know what will come next if the situation worsens,” he added.