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Councillors Support Local Residents And Businesses By Approving New Rent Relief Policy

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) elected members have today adopted a new Rent Relief Policy to help mitigate the potential social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in the district.

At an extraordinary meeting of Full Council this afternoon, Councillors voted unanimously to adopt the new policy to complement central government’s economic support package, recognising that these unprecedented times risk many businesses significantly reducing staff numbers or going out of business.

Mayor Jim Boult said that the Council was taking an approach of short-term relief that underpins a longer-term benefit for locals and businesses in the district.

“We need to think of our tenancies as a relationship to be nurtured, not just a transaction. All relationships have ups and downs, and this is a low point where we need to work together and support one another to get through successfully. The Council has received a number of requests for rent relief in recent weeks and we anticipate more to come. Providing some form of short-term relief now gives residents and businesses that are struggling a chance to survive and find a new normal in a post-COVID-19 reality,” he said.

“If you’re a landlord with struggling residential or commercial tenants, I would encourage you to also look at what you can realistically offer to support and retain these tenancies for the longer term. And if you’re a tenant in need, now is the time to reach out to your landlord and see whether an agreement can be reached to give you the breathing space you need. It’s in nobody’s interest to see empty properties or residents and businesses without a roof over their heads.”

The adopted policy contains a number of principles summarised below:

> Immediate relief provided to affected small-to-medium organisations in the form of a two-month rent waiver.

> Relief provided to large organisations who are affected by COVID-19. The Relief will be negotiated with the individual organisations taking into account their terms and circumstances.

> Immediate relief provided to residential tenancies in the form of a 30% rent reduction over a three-month period.

> Rent relief for other licence holders will remain under review.

QLDC has 717 tenancies, licences and leases throughout the district, with the newly adopted policy providing potential support for a number of residential and commercial tenancies.

Mayor Boult added that offering immediate relief means there is a chance more businesses in our district will survive this current global crisis, providing valuable jobs and shoring up our local economy.

“This is a very difficult time for many locals and offering whatever support we can is just the right thing to do. However, the Council has recognised that the flipside is a temporary reduction in rental income. As recently communicated, this is something that is being factored into reshaping the 2020-2021 Annual Plan programme and budgets, and the corresponding proposed reduced rates increase set to take effect from 1 July 2020.”

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