Retailers in lockdown-beleaguered New South Wales have applauded the long-advocated return of the Leasing Code of Conduct in NSW, which provides protections and financial support for small commercial tenants suffering through the state’s prolonged lockdown.
The Australian Retailers Association’s CEO, Paul Zahra, said the code successfully supported small- and medium-size businesses through the first wave of the pandemic and its return is a measure that the association had called for over many months, as retailers face mounting costs with little to no income.
“Rents are the biggest issue for retailers suffering the current lockdown in NSW, and many are scrambling trying to keep their businesses alive with mounting costs and little or no money coming through the door,” Zahra stated.
‘Decisive leadership’ will save many small businesses
“We have been in intense discussions with the NSW Government over this matter – particularly in recent weeks as lockdowns show no sign of easing.
“The Government not only listened; they have improved the scheme by increasing relief to landlords as well as tenants. This is decisive leadership that will save the lives of many small businesses.”
The association says businesses in NSW are feeling the pain now more than at any stage of the pandemic, with Australia’s economic capital facing its longest-ever lockdown, and has been calling for the return of tried-and-tested support schemes that worked well during the initial phase of the pandemic
“The ability of some retailers to pay their rents during this difficult period has been causing much stress and anxiety, so the announcement from the NSW Government has come as a welcome relief,” it said in a statement.
Property Council worried about a ‘blanket approach’
But not all are as pleased with the State Government announcement and the Property Council of Australia has expressed concern that it is a ‘blanket approach’ when targeted support is what is needed.
“Our members recognise the importance of supporting their tenants and are overwhelmingly acting to ensure their tenants viability through this lockdown to those in genuine need, on a tailored case-by-case basis,” the council’s NSW Executive Director, Luke Achterstraat, said.
“This one-size-fits-all intervention is a blanket approach in a challenging time when targeted support for those in genuine need is better suited. Government intervention in contracts not only risks the existing commercial relationships, but it also harms the potential for the economic recovery of the state on the back of this lockdown.”