Righting the wrongs of tenancy act

The works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, said the public consultation meeting was to review the tenancy act, if required, and revise it consequently after addressing the problems in the enforcement of the act such as delay and red-tape, and the need of awareness among the people.

Majority of the respondents that attended the public consultation meeting on Tenancy Act in Thimphu yesterday demanded changes in the area of Dispute Settlement Committee in Thromdes and Dzongkhags.

As the implementation powers were delegated to local governments, Thimphu Thromde’s legal officer Ugyen Dorji said there was no clarity on the delineation of power and responsibility.

“As such courts often refused to entertain tenancy dispute directly,” he added.

The works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, said the public consultation meeting was to review the tenancy act, if required, and revise it consequently after addressing the problems in the enforcement of the act such as delay and red-tape, and the need of awareness among the people.

The public consultation meeting organized by the Ministry of Work and Human Settlement (MoWHS) and Thimphu Thromde at the Tarayana Foundation Conference Hall saw some 61 house owners and tenants.

Meanwhile, Thimphu Thrompon Kinley Dorji said, “The monitoring and implementation of the Act was not followed up practically and most of the local governments didn’t take full responsibility in implementing the Act in their jurisdiction.”

Conversely, tenancy agreements in many cases were not drawn between the owner and tenant, according to the Thrompon. “Hence no complaints were reported to respective authorities.”

He added that the main problem today particularly with regard to erratic hiking of rents arose from lack of agreement between house owner and tenant. “When there isn’t any written agreement signed between both the parties, there is no basis to pursue a case.”

It was also informed that feedbacks from Dzongkhags and Thromdes have been sought for the general operation of the Act so as to strongly enforce the Act by the local governments.

However, a house owner said the government cannot fix security deposit and payment of rent.

 “If the government is revising the rent act, see the status of the house owners and their liabilities,” he said, adding that it was all about personal taste and preference, and that it’s up to the tenant whether he or she can afford the apartment or not.

Meanwhile, a tenant at the meeting said the rental price was increased by 40% in Motithang and Olakha last year.

 “We should look into the matter and see how they have breached the payment of rent as stipulated in the tenancy act. In fact, the increment of rent shall not exceed 10% of the monthly rent and the owner shall not increase the rent before two years from the day on which a new tenant occupies the house as per the lease agreement,” he added.

Participants say there were ambiguities in the act and that it should be made comprehensive after amendments that benefit both the parties, and then create public awareness.

Similarly, MoWHS minister Dorji Choden said the lease agreement is important and advantageous to tenant and owner as well.

Meanwhile, a private sector employee, Sonam Tshering said the government’s pledge of 20% housing allowance to civil service will further augment house rent and as a result private and corporate employees had to bear the brunt of such an allowance.

Legal officer Ugyen Dorji said awareness of the act was important. “This is a market where a large number of landlords may lack expertise, and the complexity of housing law means tenants may not understand their rights and obligations properly,” he added.

Lobzang Dorji


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