Leonie Freeman: Hello lockdown my old friend

Well, here we are again, safe in our bubbles.

I have to say I feel partly responsible given the headline of my last post two weeks ago – We’re back in the room (but let’s not jinx it!) – when we were counting down the days to the Property Industry Awards.

I’d like to think I have some kind of psychic ability but alas, I suspect we’re just accustomed to preparing for the worst-case scenario when planning events these days.

The good news is that we’ve been able to very quickly secure an alternate date for this event, with the date of Friday 29 October locked in diaries around the country.

The status and delivery of our other planned conferences remains the same, as you’ll appreciate it is very difficult to plan and un-plan these occasions on a whim and we are very much at the mercy of the pandemic. Bear with us – we’ll keep you informed as goal posts shift and contingency plans are implemented in the coming months.

With the change in Alert Level came some excellent advice from CHASNZ via the Construction Sector Accord (read more here), as well as the inevitable media interest in commercial rent relief and re-introduced discussion about providing support for struggling businesses. We’ve been here before and both tenants and landlords are in a much better position than they were in 2020.

The Government should be very encouraged by the outcomes of the previous lockdowns where landlords and tenants were able to negotiate and agree on a fair and equitable adjustment to rent in instances where it was necessary and prudent. On that basis, there should be no requirement for the Government to intervene in contracts, particularly if the lockdown is extended.

To quote Minister Grant Robertson in the NZ Herald this week:

“Asked about commercial rent support, Robertson said the Resurgence Support Payments – which can be up to $21,500 – can be used for anything including fixed costs such as rent.

Many commercial leases also included the “unable to occupy” clause in the contract, but Robertson conceded that some didn’t, and the Government could step in if level 4 continued for an “extended period”.

“We will continue to look at our options in that regard.”

Those options included legislating to suspend rental payments or offering facilitation over disagreements – though Robertson stressed the Government wasn’t leaning in any particular direction.”

Our message remains the same; communicate with your tenants, negotiate fairly, and work together.

He waka eke noa.
We’re all in this together.

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