Tenancy Act amendment to materialize

The first session of the second parliament shall discuss the issue

A pledge by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government that has most of the urban sections of the country waiting, may soon be realized as the Tenancy Act is slated to be discussed in the first Parliamentary session of the new government on September 7.

The government’s promise to revise the Tenancy Act, to make it more implementable would come into fruition soon after the completion of collecting feedback from house renters or tenants and house owners across the country.

In an effort to speed up the revision, dzongkhags and thomdes have been assigned the responsibilities of compiling the views and opinions, especially on the challenges confronted in renting out an apartment our house, by both by the owner and the renter.

In an interview with The Bhutanese, work and human settlement (MoWHS) minister Dorji Choden said the ministry is currently waiting for the compilation of feedback. She said once the government receives the study report on the challenges faced by the renters and the landlords, the Tenancy Act would be amended accordingly.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the major challenges including the rent liable to be paid by the tenants would be looked into. “Though the negotiation of rent shall be between the landlord and tenants, yet the government may have to be involved,” she said. Further she added that that such revision of the act is intended for the convenience of common people to live in an affordable apartment.

A provision under the Tenancy Act of Bhutan 2004 states that the owner shall not increase the rent before two years from the day on which a new tenant occupies the house. It further states that the increment of rent shall not exceed 10% of the monthly rent. Further, the Act also states that the rent for the leased land may be revised as specified in the lease agreement.

Lyonchhen said the TTPL shouldn’t be waiting for three years for they have more work to do. “If they ask However, talking to some of the tenants, many expressed their honest opinions and said looking for an apartment, especially in major towns, such as Thimphu is not only hard, but is scarcely affordable. “Most house owners demand huge rent for an apartment which is unworthy.” Hence, many shared that government’s involvement is timely and should bring in the positive changes in the interest of the common people.

Many feel such an Act must be implemented seriously, and not just left like in the past with mere revision of texts and words in the Act. “Implementation of revised Act should be strict or else it would serve no purpose,” said the tenants.

Majority of the renters shared that the current Tenancy Act is not so vibrant and implementable. Although, the act stipulates that hike of house rent can be done only in two years of occupancy, many landlords breach the act by increasing the rent on their whims and fancies.

Not many also draw the lease agreement despite required by the Act. Few who engage into such agreements never follow it. Hence they said that after the Act gets revised the implementation need to be strict.

“Increasing of rent soon after the inflation or salary hikes is the tendency of many building owners,” Keazang Choden, working in one of the private firm said. She said the she have to pay according to the owner’s demand though her salary remains constant.

Tenants in Thimphu and Phuentsholing are hit hard among the rest of the dzongkhags. Although there is construction boom, there are not enough apartments. People are facing the same difficulties in finding an apartment as they did years ago. This is also partly because, albeit the numerous constructions, it is too pricey to rent an apartment in these two cities.

Another Tenant, Bhim Maya Tamang, a cooperative employee said that the rules set by the building owners to pay security deposit of two months before occupying the flat is very hard for her. “Low income people shall have no home to reside if the government does not take action at the earliest.”

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