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Group of central Auckland eateries face closure, owing thousands in rent to landlord

A group of struggling Auckland eateries are pleading with the Government to supply rent relief with some facing closure and owing thousands in rent due to the impact of Covid-19.

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Some now owe their landlords thousands of dollars in rent. Source: 1 NEWS

One spot in particular, Elliot Stables was once a bustling hub of eateries in downtown Auckland.

Now it's a ghost town with some tenants making as little as $100 a day.

Sha Reubin of Burgz Burgers and Luis Cabrera of Besos Latinos are both based in Elliot Stables and have struggled to make ends meet because of the lockdowns, owing thousands in rent. 

They have both been served notices to pay the rent they owe or face closure.

“People are selling their houses just to pay their landlords,” says Reubin.

"We are bound by personal liabilities. Yes we signed those leases knowing that but we signed those leases in a normal circumstance. These aren't normal circumstances."

“The bookings are minimal. The fact that we cannot even cover the costs of the staff...It’s a very stressful situation,” says Cabrera.

Reubin and Cabrera say their landlord, Icon Group, provided two and a half months rent relief back in April.

But despite slashing costs and help from the wage subsidy about half the businesses in the area owe between $20,000-40,000 in arrears.

“The rents in the CBD as everyone knows are over the roof. It's impossible to be covering those costs now,” says Cabrera 

In a statement, Icon group said it had given its tenants at Elliott Stables more than $670,000 in rent relief and had negotiated effectively with a number of them.

The New Zealand Restaurant Association is calling for a specific rent subsidy.

“What the industry really needs in addition is the government to step in, to create a framework, provide some additional financial relief,” says general manager of the Restaurant Association, Nicola Waldren.

Jacinda Ardern has earlier said she is calling on landlords to show compassion.

“We accept that these are really tough times for businesses, we're trying to create as much relief as we can, I think actually we need to ask landlords to be as supportive as they can in these times,” she says.

“We are bound by personal liabilities, yes we signed those leases knowing that but we signed those leases in a normal circumstance. These aren't normal circumstances,” says Reubin, who may need to close the doors to his business within three weeks."