Covid-19 rent cuts on the cards for Masterton trust

3:40 pm on 20 April 2020

Wairarapa businesses and landlords will "box on" towards the post-lockdown world but may need to rely on reserves, goodwill, and subsidies to make it through the crisis.

Lone Star Masterton co-owner Tom Roseingrave, right, with Michelle Roseingrave, his wife and business partner

Lone Star Masterton co-owner Tom Roseingrave, right, with Michelle Roseingrave, his wife and business partner (file photo). The pair are backing Masterton Trust Lands Trust's approach. Photo: File / Wairarapa Times-Age (via LDR)

Moves are being put in place to manage the economic fallout from the Covid-19 response in Wairarapa.

The pandemic and its response put the brakes on Wairarapa's growing retail, food and hospitality sector.

The enforced closure, given with only hours notice, has hit hard leaving workers and business and property owners in search of support.

Tom Roseingrave, franchisee of Masterton's Lone Star Café and Bar, said he had "very positive" discussions with the landlord, the Masterton Trust Lands Trust (MTLT), over rental agreements.

The Dixon St restaurant, one franchise of the national chain, is one of dozens of buildings around Masterton in the publicly-owned trust's portfolio.

"The trust [has] been very conscious of our position."

Masterton Trust Lands Trust

Masterton Trust Lands Trust Photo: File / Wairarapa Times-Age (via LDR)

Roseingrave said he had been contacted by hospitality and restaurant associations about support they could offer cafes, bars, restaurants and hoteliers.

He said he had been working on applications for government support.

"Clearly our business is able to apply for wage subsidy, as are all businesses, and really that's a huge responsibility.

"We need to get as many staff as we can funded so that they can pay their own bills and things like that."

He said he had been in constant contact with Lone Star's headquarters on strategies over the eventual lifting of Level 4 restrictions.

"As soon as we can, we'll be there for people. We're just cognisant of the support and messages people have sent us, and we just want to show that [sentiment] back as much as we can."

Roseingrave and his wife and business partner Michelle also run the Joe's Garage café in Wellington.

He said an important part of the current situation was making sure staff were looked after.

"We just have to deal with it the best we can. That encompasses everything you have to do at times like this. Just box on."

MTLT general manager Andrew Croskery said the trust had approached central government to check what was available for landlords, and to support tenants.

Croskery said it had given substantial rent rebates to about half of its tenants.

"Very quickly we offered to rebate April rents as we worked through individual cases. Subsequently, we have offered a significant number of partial rental abatements, often up to 67 percent of one month's rent."

The trust raises money through its property for community organisations and grants. Croskery said it was vital for the trust to have a "thriving" town.

"First and foremost, Masterton needs a thriving CBD and thriving businesses.

"Secondly, we at the trust need successful tenants, because tenants pay the rent which allows us to meet our objective, which is returning a dividend to the Masterton community, by way of grants to education and art, and the provision of community property.

"We want a successful town."

He said the long-term effects were yet to be calculated.

"The impact of that for us will be significant and it won't be fully realised until the end of the 2020/21 year.

"While we might be back at work in a week, the impact of this Covid-19 virus as far as the economy is concerned won't be understood for months."

Roseingrave said the lockdown may have "refocused" people.

"Perhaps it brings us back closer to local businesses and how important they are to the local economy. Everyone's supporting us."

What is Masterton Trust Lands Trust (MTLT)?

MTLT is a publicly-owned property management organisation.

It held its first meeting in 1872. Its predecessor organisations formed as far back as 1852.

The trust lands area includes the old borough area of the town, and the wider surrounding lands covered by the old Small Farm Settlement association, one of the trust's precursors.

An elected eight-person board of trustees manages the trust, directed by an Act of Parliament.

Elections are held every three years for four positions, voted in by residents within the area.

The board meets formally 10 times per year.

Its returns are held for residents in the area.

Funding is distributed through grants and to educational institutions, community organisations and individuals who live or operate within the MTLT district. Scholarships are also offered to students in a wider area.

It also provides buildings and land for community organisations.

It has 80 properties and 100 tenants across the area, valued at more than $68 million.

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