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Heart of the City Submission on the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill

Tuesday 5 Oct 2021

Heart of the City is Auckland’s central city business association. We represent the interest of businesses and property owners in Auckland’s city centre, which has been disproportionally hit by the impact of COVID-19. This has placed a burden on many as they try to navigate through a significant loss of revenue, multiple lockdowns and no targeted support to cover fixed costs.  More than $820M in consumer spending has been lost since the start of 2020 (versus 2019) in the heart of the city.

The consultation period for this proposed change to the Property Law Act is very short and we haven’t had the opportunity to seek considered feedback.  

However, we have outlined top-line concerns below that are principle-based.  Simplistically, this is too rushed; it doesn’t fix key issues and it transfers the cost from one party to another in an arbitrary way; it should not be seen as a replacement for targeted support, and there is a high likelihood of unintended consequences.

  • We are concerned that the proposed changes to this Bill come with very little input from those that it will impact. This could have been avoided if there had been adequate engagement with those representing tenants and landlords.
  • The proposal for lease amendments is a blunt instrument in trying to address the real impacts on specific circumstances and sectors. 
  • The proposed lease amendment transfers the cost of COVID-19 between parties, which does not address the overall issue because financial constraints are finite.  
  • The proposed lease amendment ignores the fact that there should be targeted support for impacted sectors to ensure they remain in business, employing staff and paying tax, when we are through this pandemic. It should not be seen as an alternative to providing financial support to impacted sectors, and this should not be seen as a subsidy to landlords.
  • It also does not recognise the unequal impacts that COVID-19 has had on different business sectors.