I understand this is a difficult time for many businesses, including commercial landlords, and that many companies have had to close their businesses or curtail their activities due to COVID-19 restrictions. I am aware that these closures can have secondary effects impacting landlords and I recognise that many landlords have debt repayment obligations as well as other ongoing costs.
The issue of commercial rents is primarily a contractual matter for the parties involved. However, the Government has urged landlords and tenants to talk to one another and come to some arrangement, as it is in everybody’s interest that terms are amicably agreed. Landlords should be willing to do what they can to help their tenants to continue to operate rather than facing the risk of a vacant premises and inability to obtain new tenants. Equally, tenants should pay what they can and speak with their landlord when difficulties arise.
On 1st October, I published the Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents, which was developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders based on examples from other jurisdictions. The aim of the voluntary Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19.
However, this Code should not be seen in isolation. To date, over €24 billion had been made available in support measures for businesses, including a package of over €7 billion worth of measures as part of the July Jobs Stimulus, and a total budgetary package of over €17 billion announced in Budget 2021 to help those impacted by COVID-19 and related public health restrictions. This further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting the country through this crisis.
The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) announced as part of Budget 2021 will allow the Government to provide targeted support for those sectors and businesses that have been significantly impacted by the public health restrictions. It will help businesses to meet ongoing costs such as commercial rents, utilities or insurance. It offers financial assistance to businesses that have either been forced to temporarily close their premises or only been able to trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19.
The relief will operate as a cash payment equal to 10% of the average weekly value of the 2019 business’s turnover up to €20,000 and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000, for the same number of weeks as the restricted period. The intention of the scheme is to recognise the challenges experienced in particular by sectors that have been most affected by restrictions since the onset of the pandemic in March.
The full list of supports to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis is available on my Department’s website.