I understand this is a difficult time for many businesses, especially those heavily impacted by the crisis who are facing an uncertain future. I know that some firms are concerned about how they are going to continue to pay the rent due for their business premises. Throughout this crisis, the Government has been encouraging commercial tenants and landlords to engage with each other and have asked landlords to show forbearance in these extraordinary times. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of both parties to come to a reasonable arrangement.
Ireland came through the initial economic shock with unparalleled levels of State intervention aimed at stabilising the economy and supporting businesses, employment and incomes. Over €24½ billion had been made available in support measures as of September 2020, including the July Jobs Stimulus package of over €7 billion.
The total budgetary package of over €17¾ billion announced in Budget 2021 is unprecedented in both size and scale in the history of the Irish State further demonstrating the Government’s commitment to supporting the country through this crisis.
The further extension of the EWSS until the end of December 2021 marks a historic intervention by Government to support employment in businesses affected by this pandemic. It ensures that the link between the employer and the employee is maintained and assists businesses to continue to trade in spite of reduced demand.
We are managing difficult trade-offs to allow the economy to operate as fully and effectively as possible to minimise permanent loss of economic activity while safely living with Covid-19. I am aware that despite this approach, some businesses, particularly in the entertainment, arts and hospitality sectors remain badly impacted by restrictions. The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is being introduced to help businesses who are severely restricted to meet ongoing costs through periods of restriction.
On 1st October, I published a new voluntary Code of Conduct between Landlords and Tenants for Commercial Rents. The Code, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including Ibec, Retail Excellence Ireland, Chambers Ireland and Irish Institutional Property. It is based on an approach taken in other jurisdictions, including Australia, France and the UK.
The Code sets out how both parties can work together to get through these uncertain times. 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.
The Code can be found on my Department’s website here: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Code-of-Conduct-between-Landlords-and-Tenants-for-Commercial-Rents.html