16 Apr 2020

Council approves rent relief for Queenstown businesses, residents

5:35 pm on 16 April 2020

Many Queenstown Lakes residents and businesses can now access rent relief aimed to help those struggling with the impacts Covid-19.

Colored crosswalk and people in street of city after dusk showing the character of famous tourist spot.

Photo: 123rf

Queenstown Lakes District Council voted unanimously to adopt a rent relief policy at an extraordinary meeting Thursday morning.

The policy includes an immediate two month rent waiver for affected small-to-medium businesses and a 30 percent reduction in rent for residential tenancies over a three month period.

Larger businesses will individually negotiate for rent relief while support for other licence holders will remain under review.

The council has more than 700 tenancies, licences and leases across the district.

District Mayor Jim Boult said the short-term support would give residents and businesses breathing room.

"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," Mr Boult said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult Photo: Supplied

The council has received a number of rent relief requests already and more were expected, he said.

"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 encouraged landlords to look at what they could realistically offer and to speak with their tenants.

"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," Mr Boult said.

"It's in nobody's interest to see empty properties or residents and businesses without a roof over their heads."

Mr Boult acknowledged it would mean a temporary reduction in rental income, but he said that was being factored into reshaping the annual plan, budgets, and the proposed reduced rates increase set to take effect from 1 July.

"This is a very difficult time for many locals and offering whatever support we can is just the right thing to do."

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