Covid-19: Stores to get rent relief to compensate for lockdown losses

The retail sector's rent relief fund targets preserving jobs for retailers, their suppliers and service providers for the lockdown period.
The retail sector's rent relief fund targets preserving jobs for retailers, their suppliers and service providers for the lockdown period.
Image: Asawin Klabma/rf.com

The Property Industry Group has announced a rent relief fund for retail sector members  affected by the lockdown.

The initiative targets preserving jobs for retailers, their suppliers and service providers, said Estienne de Klerk, the group's spokesperson.

De Klerk said though its primary focus was on SMMEs across all sectors, the group has also included providing support to large retailers affected by the lockdown.

The package stipulates that all tenants whose accounts were in good standing at February 29 2020 could be assured there would be no evictions for the next two months.

“In addition, retailers prevented from trading in compliance with South Africa’s government-mandated lockdown (non-essential services), and in good standing at the end of February 2020, are offered some form of assistance from landlords. The extent of that relief depends on the severity of impact.

“For April and May 2020, retail landlords will offer relief in the form of rental discounts where rental will be waived partially or fully, and interest-free rental deferments where the deferred rental will be recovered later over six to nine months from July 1 2020 onwards.

“Of course, each landlord can use their discretion in the relief and assistance they give a retail tenant, but the property industry package stipulates the minimum that qualifying retailers can expect,” she said.

Landlords will, on a case-by-case basis, consider providing relief for office, industrial and hospitality tenants if the lockdown severely affects the tenant and where it is justified. These tenants will negotiate relief terms directly with their landlords.

De Klerk said the package assumes that SA’s lockdown will not be extended beyond 21 days.

“If this isn’t the case, it is critical for stimulus packages, such as those provided by the government, banking sector and solidarity fund, to kick in to weather this storm,” said De Klerk.