Landlords holding out on rent relief for 1 in 5 retailers: Retail NZ

Retail NZ national secretary Greg Harford has said 1 in 5 of the union’s members are still struggling to get rent relief from landlords.

Harford told Radio New Zealand that while many landlords have been accommodating, there are those that aren’t seeing the larger picture.

“The big issue is that while many landlords have accepted the economic reality that we’re in and have come to the party and negotiated something sensible with their tenants, there’s still a number of landlords that are insisting that full rent be paid for the period of the lockdown,” Harford told RNZ.

“That’s just not practical or realistic.”

The issue comes after weeks in lockdown, when retailers have almost no revenue coming in to support the stores that had been shuttered by government decree.

And, according to Harford, the result would be that those tenants being expected to pay full rent will likely go out of business and leave a hole for the landlord to fill in a rapidly downsizing retail industry.

“We’ve heard of some businesses being threatened with both guarantors called in through the bank and indeed being evicted. It’s not large numbers, but the numbers are definitely there,” Harford said.

While landlords had come to the negotiating table initially, when the New Zealand government had outlined a plan to cover up to 75 per cent of arbitration and rental disputes in June, but as that proposal is still before cabinet the steam behind many negotiations has broken down.

The government also temporarily inserted a clause in to the Property Law Act to require landlords to reduce rent in certain circumstances, though those that had already begun negotiations couldn’t apply.

“This will hopefully get parties to the negotiating table to find, but the support needs to extend to all commercial tenants,” Harford said.


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