The past year has been an extraordinarily challenging time for businesses in the City of Sydney – if we thought last year was bad – this current Delta strain outbreak is ravaging our small businesses in Sydney.
I have spent a lot of time meeting with small business owners and the stories have been heartbreaking. Where there was hope a few months ago – for some there is now nothing.
Apart from the dramatic drop in revenue – rent relief and negotiating with landlords has been the overwhelming issue for small business tenants. Some large institutional landlords have been complete bastards – I have seen some of the personal threats, oppressive legal intimidation and outright coercion. I’m not kidding.
I have been actively lobbying the state and federal governments to impress on our political leadership that they needed to step up and support our small businesses before it was too late for some.
I am pleased that the State Government will now extend the Retail and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19) Regulation 2021 until 13 January 2022.
The Regulation will mandate the minimum relief that landlords need to provide impacted tenants and require landlords to renegotiate rent having regard to National Cabinet’s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct requires landlords to provide rent relief in proportion with their tenant’s decline in turnover. Of the rent relief provided, at least 50% must be in the form of a waiver, and the balance a deferral. This will also prohibit a landlord from evicting or locking out a tenant for certain breaches of the lease unless they have first renegotiated rent and attempted mediation.
Its not perfect and there are loopholes for landlords - but at least we have been able to achieve something.
Please reach out to me if you have any other suggestions about how we can improve protections for small business during this really difficult time.