EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, Australia

Loans, grants amongst available rent relief options for NSW businesses: expert

LeaseInfo managing director Simon Fonteyn also urged “more productive dialogue” between landlords and tenants.

There remains additional options that chains can utilise to seek relief after the NSW government’s COVID-19 moratorium on evictions changed last month, LeaseInfo managing director Simon Fonteyn told QSR Media.

More on our Q&A below:

QSR Media: What are your general thoughts on the changes to NSW government’s COVID-19 moratorium on evictions?
Fonteyn: Generally, the NSW Government has been very supportive of small business throughout the pandemic. They have attempted to protect SMEs through the Code [of Conduct] as well as providing a range of incentives and grants, including specific grants for Northern Beaches businesses.

QSR Media: Are there any more relief options chains can take or utilise?
Fonteyn: A lot of chains are choosing to extend leases in exchange for further relief during the pandemic. Others are choosing to re-negotiate new leases on more favourable terms.

QSR Media: Would it be reasonable to explore a potential extension of the lease protections for tenants? Any ideas on finding that balance between supporting both tenants and landlords?
Fonteyn: I think in certain industries such as travel retail and tourism retail, there is likely to be Federal Government intervention via JobKeeper, which may then be transitioned into further protections under the NSW Code for those industries.

It is unlikely that further extensions in legislation will occur in NSW post-March, however in saying that there are a lot of unused options by retail chains that are available to them that don’t appear to be fully utilised:

  • SME Loans – Government guaranteed – This scheme appears to be barely used the sector and can be a bridge to the other side;
  • NSW Government Grants – pandemic relief is available via grants;
  • More productive dialogue between landlords and tenants - Discussions need to move away from transactional win-lose discussion to win-win. However, both sides need to be in regular contact with each other and updating on business outlook. I see way too many examples of breakdowns of communication resulting in big losses on both sides, when a sensible compromise could have been reached. This should include the use of appropriate mediation through the NSW Small Business Commissioner.

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