A Greg Harford, described as the Chief Executive of Retail NZ which is apparently a shopkeepers association, had an article published on the Stuff website. Specifically, he called for building owners to subsidise his members for their decline in sales and losses due to the lockdown.

He wrote: “The government has provided funding for arbitration, but it has been unable to enact the principle that proportionate rent relief should be applied.” So here’s some questions for Harford.

  1. Precisely what is the “principle” you refer to? The fact is no such principle exists and you simply made it up.
  2. Retailers cover a wide range of activities. However, as a general proposition, most have numerous supplies for their activities. Plus they have wages, electricity, and a range of other costs. So does this mythical subsidy “principle” extend to those suppliers and if not, why not? Finally, why do you single out building owners?

I shall look forward to an explanation, albeit I know the answer.

That is, if he tried this “principle” fiction on the electricity supplier or say clothing manufacturers providing dress-shops with stock, they’d tell him where to go.

Building owners did not cause the lockdown. Their relationship with shopkeepers is a contractual matter in the form of a lease.

I can imagine Harford’s reaction if, as happens, say building insurances are dramatically increased and the shopkeepers were asked to increase their rent. Quite rightly, they’d refer to the lease and tell the building owners where to go.

My company owns the most Wellington prime CBD retail premises. You will not find any of our lessees critical of us, indeed very much to the contrary as they sing our praises.

We did not wait to be asked but realising their difficulties, provided assistance.

When I grilled Justice Minister Andrew Little, (who I’ve known for many years) about this intervention he replied, “Everyone knows about RJH’s reputation.” The inuendo was I am naïve about other building owners who take a hard contractual line.

I’m not naïve; it’s a contractual matter and they’re as entitled as any supplier to demand it be adhered to and not have one party solve their problems by the simple remedy of giving them to someone else.

RJH is a substantial office building owning company and our buildings’ retail component’s main function is decorative rather than financial. But most of the 250,000 building owners across New Zealand are not in our position. Nevertheless, they will deal with the issue sensibly as they see fit, without illogical government intervention, let alone bogus “principle” assertions.


Here here Bob, well said. I to own a commercial building albeit a very small one in a CBD with only two tenants however the same principle applies. When we gave our tenants assistance during the lockdown it was on a contractual basis and ‘variation’ to the lease. Seems some tenants think it’s all the landlords fault they have been locked out and lump the responsibility on them to keep the tenants business viable. God help us should the current lot of fools running the country start dabbling in yet another enterprise they know nothing about and destroy it like they have the residential tenancy act and our economy. Hands off children!!

Yes Rob; not sure this is one for the current clown show to be dicking around with. Some legal precedents would be helpful and I understand the law society are looking at it closely.
I too have commercial rental property and was willing to help my tenant through the lock-down.
I suspect Greg is referring to the proportion of rent to be paid in the event of a lock down by “a competent authority” as per the ADSL standard commercial lease agreement. Old and most other types of leases have no such clause.
Losses due to actions in relation to pandemics are, almost without exception, not insurable and there is no formula or guidelines offered in the lease agreement toward resolution of proportionality.

As a retired Commercial Property Manager, I have been saying the same thing since lockdown. Yes, the retailers are suffering but who is giving any thought to the landlords. They still have costs to meet and to do so, rely on their rental income. I do know that many landlords have given rental holidays or some form of amelioration to their tenants and this is being ignored by most.

Ok, how about considering the same generous approach the banks have taken. Provide a reduced rent holiday to tenants? That holiday relief can be added back later? Or some of those tenants taking advantage of Govt loans to keep paying their obligations, including rents?

All commercial property owners should adjust the Russel Crowe oscar acceptance speech and repeat the following mantra every night before bedtime. God bless America. God save the Queen. God defend New Zealand and thank Christ for Bob Jones.

Where do they get these guys from..If were a retailer I would be embarrassed..Is this the best they can come up with.
Lockdown was a big call with big consequences but no-one seems to have connected the dots here..The party responsible for this (The Government), should reimburse all those affected..Now that would be fair.

People will try anything on if they think they might get away with it. Look at Maoridom, for example. They told the [pure] white people that they owe them everything for colonisation (actually the best thing that ever happened to them) and they get away with it. Now there is no nor ever will be any end to contrived historic grievance. It pays, and that’s the only rationality that matters.

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