Tenants in Pekarzhing NHDCL colony request for rent waiver as the lockdown eats into their income

Though the tenants residing in Pekarzhing (Toribari) under Phuentsholing Dungkhag have been requesting for rent reduction since last year, they did not get any concrete decision from the government so far.

They have out up a petition on this matter to National Housing Development Corporation Limited (NHDCL) in May 2019, but since they said they cannot do anything on this, they have submitted the same to the government. However, they did not get any response on this so far.

There are 105 units in the colony and tenants are all drivers, single mothers who make living through weaving, low income earners and private employees. The tenants have been paying the rents; however, due to the pandemic this year, the situation has worsened.

Pema Wangda, Tshogpa of the colony said that it has become difficult to make their living. The amount of food they used to consume in the past for three days are now being consumed for 4 to 5 days due to no income.

After the pandemic they have requested twice for rent concession but they did not get a single time, he said, adding they would be grateful if government can consider their issue at least during lockdown and give a certain percent reduction.

“We were informed to pay the rent on time but the situation is too bad. Most of the drivers are in quarantine and some are left with no jobs due to the pandemic and closure of border. Weavers have no market to sell their products. Keep aside paying rent, they are having difficulty in buying essential items. Some even finding difficulty in paying Nu 400 for vegetables,” he added.

He owns a shop in the building and for now he is giving credit to those who can’t effort during such times. He is getting essential items from FCBL in bulk and distributing to all the tenants equally. There are few who are managing to buy paying cash, he added. 

He said, “On this matter we have approached NHDCL several time but they said they do not have the authority to  reduce rent and therefore asked us to wait until government comes up with their decision. We are hoping for the best.”

They are expecting at least 50 percent of rent deduction whereby they can at least manage to pay the rent. The highest rent is Nu 6,760 while the lowest is Nu 3,200 per month.

Thinley Dorji, CEO of NHDCL said that they have asked for rent deduction prior to the lockdown. Moreover, they have asked for the same since last year.

He said, “We have constructed these colonies under housing project availing loans. Today, even after collecting rents from the constructed units, the government has to pay additional Nu 828 mn (including principal and interest amount) for the next 20 years.”

He also said that the rent per square meter was decided by the previous government but the current government is doing their best with this. “When it comes to request on rent deduction, the management is planning to put up the matter to the board for the rent concession because we can see people being affected due to lockdown,” he added.

Nevertheless, he said that the board has no authority to decide on this matter because even if they give a rent concession the government will have the pay the additional amount. Therefore, they will put up to the government for a final decision on this.

Even when government have waived off the interest payment for few months, NHDCL still had to pay the principal amount and for that matter they did not give any rent concession so far, he said. 

He said comparing the rent, they are charging Nu 3,000 per month which a private owner may charge Nu 12,000 per month, he said, adding that the rent is already affordable and they have more than 506 units under the housing project.

He said, “However, we will consider and defer the rent payment at this point of time. We do not force them to pay the rent right away. We will look into the matter at the earliest.”

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