COVID-19: Landlords will kill our economy

Hello governments. I have a COVID-19 policy suggestion that might help save a large chunk of our economy.

Right now, a select group of businesses have been chosen to go from regular trading to zero revenue in a week. My own sector, events, is literally illegal. Bars, restaurants and lots of others are in the same position or soon will be.

We’re bleeding cash trying to salvage anything from the wreckage.

My own business is spending every last cent of our cash to keep our 60-odd staff employed in some way, even though we’re not allowed to do what we do. Personally, I’ll make zero income for the next year.

Meanwhile, commercial landlords are going: ‘Sorry but we have a contract and our return on investment must not be affected in any way.’

Some of our landlords have agreed to push a percentage of our rent back to later in the year, but it still has to be paid back. So we’ll pay double rent as we emerge into what will be a catastrophic recession.

Why should landlords be a protected species while actual risk-takers go to the wall?

Landlords don’t employ anyone; their benefit to society is frankly pretty marginal.

Ban rent for COVID-19-affected businesses

If your business is forced to stop trading for the obvious good of society, why should landlords get away scot-free?

We need legislation to ban rents for COVID-19-affected businesses.

If the landlords make nothing for six months, they’re still doing much better than businesses like ours, which are making massive losses.

If they have loans over that building, they can take it up with the bank like everyone else with a now-unsupportable loan. And the government can consider chipping in to cover part of that.

Of the 20 or so commercial landlords I’ve dealt with over the course of our business, almost all are people who bought the building in 1986 for about what the monthly rent is now. It’s pure profit for them.

Sorry to sound like an absolute communist, but they can afford it, and their failure to pitch in with the rest of us to solve this health crisis is unacceptable.

Time to force their hand, governments.

This article was first published on LinkedIn and has been republished with permission.

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