As Thailand moves into the second month of emergency decree, many business owners are left asking, “How are we going to pay the rent?”
Exchange Tower in Asoke has four floors of retail space, populated by restaurants, beauty clinics and others.
The yoga studio, Absolute You, which takes up the entire top floor, is paying a two-million baht monthly rent. But there hasn’t been a yoga class in over a month.
The restaurant, Chu, has been doing delivery service only, for the past month. Revenue is down by nearly 90%, but the monthly rent is still at 435,000 baht.
Some tenants made a request to building management to reduce the monthly rental rate for the duration of the emergency decree.
“The building told us all individually to write a letter asking for help, which we all did,” said Chirayu Na Ranong, owner of Chu.
According to Chirayu, building management then issued a letter to the tenants, offering to defer 20% rental payment for April and May to November and December.
“We begin asking around to other tenants and learn that everyone got the same letter,” Chirayu said. “So we decided to band together [17 tenants] and write a letter asking them to give an actual money discount.”
He explained that building management responded that they will “consider the discount,” but requested for tenants to submit a number of documents, including tax statement, income statement, bank statement, etc, dating between January 2019 and March 2020.
The submission deadline was April 13.
Absolute You and another tenant were able to receive rental discounts. However, Benjaporn Karoonkornsakul, owner of Absolute You, said that she rejected the discount offer as a matter of integrity.
She is demanding a full discount, which she said all of her branches at other locations received.
Other tenants did not receive the rental discounts, as they either didn’t submit all the required documents, did not submit within the deadline or, like Chirayu, did not submit at all.
Chirayu said he and some others were uncomfortable with providing all the documents and felt they were unnecessary. They decided to speak to building management to clarify some details about the documents and were told that the building manager would get back to them soon.
One week past, the tenants received a letter from building management stating that their requests have been denied, because the tenants did not submit the documents by April 13.
“We all then signed a letter stating that we were all waiting for more clarity from the building management as agreed upon,” Chirayu said. “But nothing happened.”
On April 30, the tenants received a reminder to pay their rent.
On May 2, the tenants received a final notice with a warning that utilities will be turned off on May 8 if rents are not paid.
As of today, May 7, Chirayu said building management has been calling the tenants and telling them, rent is due.
We contacted the building manager, who has declined to comment.