Waive rental or face empty outlets, landlords urged

Most retailers have been shut down since the movement control order was implemented on March 18.

PETALING JAYA: Retail and consumer associations are asking landlords to show “goodwill” by suspending rental collections until the movement control order (MCO) ends on April 14.

Garry Chua, president of the Malaysia Retail Chain Association, said thousands of SMEs and businesses have had no business due to the MCO, implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

“Some shopping malls and landlords have announced that they will offer free rental while others have not.

“They shouldn’t collect rental now, because if businesses collapse there won’t be any except from the ‘big boys’,” he told FMT.

Some retailers had complained about having to continue with rental payments despite being shut down since the MCO took effect on March 18.

Several who asked to remain anonymous said they had received notices for their April rental as well as requests that their utilities bills be paid by month-end.

“Our businesses are shut. Why isn’t the mall management cooperating with us? How are we to survive?” they said.

They told FMT they had been negotiating with their management for a week now but that discussions remained at a stalemate.

Chua said landlords who do not assist their tenants now might face empty outlets in a few months’ time.

He said many of his association’s 550 members have had only thin profit margins and that businesses would not be able to survive the economic slowdown coupled with the effects of the MCO.

“Businesses will collapse if assistance is not given.”

He urged landlords to waive rental payments, saying the government had also offered a six-month moratorium on loan payments.

“We need to help each other survive.”

The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor, meanwhile, urged Putrajaya to release clear guidelines for tenants and landlords alike.

“There is confusion as some are giving free rental while others are not,” its president Jacob George told FMT.

“Putrajaya needs to make a stand to help businesses.”

George, whose association studies public policies, said travel agencies in particular had been hard hit by the recent circumstances.

Adding that no one wants to travel during a pandemic, he said such businesses need urgent aid.

“They should be exempted from paying rental for six months, otherwise we may see businesses collapsing,” he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday that the economy might take six months to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

He also said the government was willing to hold discussions with SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs who claim they were left out of the economic stimulus package.

Critics of the government’s RM250 billion stimulus package say it favours the middle- and lower-income groups but leaves out SMEs which need help in order to survive.

Cheras mall offers 2 months’ free rental

While many appeals for postponing rent have fallen on deaf ears, Eko Cheras Mall in Cheras is offering tenants free rent from March 1 to April 30.

It is also offering free parking.

“Together we shall ride these difficult times and emerge stronger. Stay safe,” it said in a poster.