People say the rents are higher or the locations are unfavorable
The busiest commercial hub in the country today is suddenly seeing a lot of empty spaces as building owners are unable to find tenants to occupy their properties.
Building owners in Phuentsholing that Business Bhutan talked to attributed it to the extended lockdown in the border town, which prompted hundreds of residents to relocate to other dzongkhags, especially in absence of business opportunities and in many cases loss of livelihood.
Two tenants of Govind Limbu, a building owner in Kabreytar, hurriedly left the town after the lockdown was lifted, and ever since he has been struggling to find new occupants for his two BHK flats despite floating an advertisement on social media and reducing the rent from by Nu 1,000.
“Although a few prospective tenants did turn up to check out the apartments, they were further negotiating the rent down to Nu. 7,000 from the current Nu 10,000, which is not at all feasible as I have to extend the same courtesy to my other tenants,” he said.
Thinley Bidha posted an advertisement of an empty business space two months back and still she has not received any response.
“Before the lockdown, whenever we posted ads of empty apartments, people used to book immediately but now the situation is just the opposite,” she said, “I have even brought down the rent substantially.”
She added how choosy residents have become lately demanding parking space, 24 hours water supply and proximity to the main town, not to mention the concession in rent. Meanwhile, potential tenants have their own story to share about how the house owners are still adamant about charging exorbitant rents despite receiving kidu in the form of loan deferment and interest waiver.
Sherab, a teacher, arrived in Phuentsholing recently and despite the availability of empty apartments, he found the location unsuitable and the rent too high, besides an erratic water supply.
Meanwhile, Yeshey Needup, a new resident, has been looking for an apartment close to the town with a reasonable rent.
“I am staying with a friend right now and as my place of work is in the town, I am looking to stay close by,” he said, adding that he does not own a car.
Likewise, Thinley Gyueltshen recently moved out of his old apartment that was almost 10 kilometers away from the town, which cost him Nu 9,000 for another one at Damdara for its location, paying Nu 2,000 extra.
Another resident, Sonam Phuentsho also shared his frustration about rent, claiming even bachelor apartments come as high as Nu 6,000 a month, which is outrageous.
“Building owners are still adamant about keeping the rent high; they would rather keep their apartments empty than reduce the rent,” he said, adding he has not been able to move out of his friend’s house.
Presently, the rents of a 3BHK apartment in Phuentsholing are between Nu 13,000-15,000 and for a 2BHK flat they are between Nu 9,000-11,000, which many residents feel is too high given that the Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected their income.
Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing