Many of our clients who offer non-essential services according to government’s directives, for example, schools and crèches, bars and lounges, e.t.c have been expressing concerns over their rent that is running and business is on a complete halt or has terribly slowed down.
They know that in a matter of months or weeks, their landlords will come demanding for rent, which is his right. They are afraid of being sent packing in the middle of a pandemic and rightly so because, losing your ‘space’ at this time and trying to find a new one once the lock down is totally lifted can be destabilizing.
Landlords on the other hand are affected by this pandemic too and need financial relief as much as you their tenants, so diplomacy and being considerate must come to play in employing the approach we will be talking about in this article. Remember, they have every right to demand for rent and you have every duty as long as you are still occupying their premises to pay rent.
And that brings us to NEGOTIATION. Diplomatic and considerate negotiations can very much solve any problem. You can take that from me as an Alternative to Dispute Resolution (ADR) specialist. We all know the old saying: “a closed mouth is a closed destiny”. You cannot expect your landlord to know whether or not you have the means to pay rent, and you should equally not wait till your rent expires and he starts dragging you before you communicate your intentions to him. That will be sheer irresponsibility if you ask me. Your landlord has plans too and he has need for money. So, the earlier the better.
Now, this is what you should do; communicate with your landlord, either orally or through a letter your intentions to talk about your tenancy with them in relation to payment of rent. Negotiate with them based on the current happenings in the world. For example, you can ask for what I call a ‘rent holiday’ of 3 to 6 months and then let your negotiations start from there, or ask for a rent slash. Otherwise, you can talk to your lawyer who can help you kick start or handle this process so that you and your landlord can leave the negotiation table with a smile on your faces and most importantly so that your relationship can be preserved.