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Fair go for SMEs trying to resolve rent disputes - Auckland Business Chamber

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New government legislation requiring a "fair reduction" in commercial rents for businesses with 20 employees or less is a "constructive" response to resolving disputes between landlords and stricken tenants unable to pay rent because of the enforced lockdown destroying their revenue streams, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO Michael Barnett.

"As SMEs adjust to the new normal and start the road to repairing and recovering their businesses, a huge cost and ongoing worry has been their ability to meet rents," Mr Barnett said. "While some landlords have been willing to work with their tenants to find an equitable solution that doesn’t cripple one or the other, some landlords have been intransigent. That’s a lose lose for everyone."

He said the $40 million government package to provide access to arbitration in a timely and cost-effective way is helpful in ensuring small and medium businesses have an opportunity to negotiate a fair rent agreement with their landlords.

"The Chamber has been lobbying strongly for a solution to the critical rent issue when, through no fault of their own, SMEs were shutdown as part of our national response to beating the pandemic. The arbitration process to resolve outstanding conflicts between landlords and tenants is a positive outcome and does not tread into contentious territories over contract and property laws."

He said the Chamber will provide SMEs with a template, toolkit and framework to work through the arbitration process.

"SMEs should contact the Chamber for assistance. We are here to help you succeed."

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