Councils’ rent lead

Tari Jeffers and Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Manjimup Shire Council is waiving rent for tenants in its various buildings.
Camera IconManjimup Shire Council is waiving rent for tenants in its various buildings. Credit: South Western Times

Commercial landlords in the region are being encouraged to follow the example of the Manjimup and Boyup Brook shire councils in offering rent relief to tenants.

Amid the financial stress caused by COVID-19, the local governments are emulating the State Government, which also recently announced rental payments would be waived for small businesses and not-for-profit groups in government-owned buildings for six months.

Manjimup Shire Council has applied a full rental waiver to tenants in 5A/B and 5C Brockman Street.

“Both businesses are being impacted by the restrictions relating to food premises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and assistance by way of a rent waiver may be the key to the long-term viability of businesses,” Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei said.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 will have a huge impact on the economic growth we have seen over the last couple of years due to the town centre revitalisation project, however, saving businesses means saving jobs and helping the economy to rebuild into the future.

“If you are a commercial landlord, please consider the longer term benefits of reducing or waiving rent in order to maintain your tenancy.”

Cilantro’s owner Raj Thyagarajan — who rents one of the council’s buildings — said he welcomed the decision, especially since experiencing a 60 per cent downturn in patronage since dine-in was halted.

“Rent is one of the biggest expenses when running a business, so this is very good for us right now,” he said.

“I definitely encourage other landlords to follow this example, everybody is going through this at the moment and anything landlords can do to help will mean they have lessees for a longer period.

“I am happy to be living in the Shire of Manjimup because it is such a supportive community.”

Professionals Warren Blackwood Realty principal Dianna Western said their landlords who could afford to waive rent had already done so.

“The issue for other landlords — those who have a mortgage or the building is their only source of income — is they have no relief either, so may not be in a position to waive rent,” she said.

Boyup Brook shire chief executive Chris Smith said waiving rental fees was a logical decision and the right thing to do in a small community like Boyup Brook.

“We’ve only got a very small number of properties and so the net cost to council was very small and so it was an easy decision to make,” he said.

Manjimup Chamber of Commerce president Victoria Howe welcomed the decision and also encouraged any commercial landlord able to provide relief, to help their tenants.

“It is a fantastic stand the shire is taking and I understand it is tough, but any landlords that can do something, it would be appreciated,” she said.

Mrs Howe also encouraged any businesses to contact the chamber if they needed assistance.

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