Bowman MP Andrew Laming questions ASX listed companies for using government's coronavirus relief package on rent payments. Company fires back

BOWMAN MP Andrew Laming says he has achieved justice for Redland landlords after calling out retailers for trying to use the coronavirus pandemic as a way of avoiding rent payments.

LINE IN THE SAND: Andrew Laming says he has called out big companies for using government's coronavirus relief package on rent payments

LINE IN THE SAND: Andrew Laming says he has called out big companies for using government's coronavirus relief package on rent payments

During a coalition party room meeting last week, Mr Laming revealed a list of companies which he said had not taken a financial hit but were still asking rent reductions under the federal government's relief scheme.

He said the last of the companies in question had retracted its request after he questioned their activities in the wake of appeals from local commercial agents and landlords.

"Big guys and ASX listed companies appear to have deliberately withheld rents to local landlords even though their circumstances have not changed," Mr Laming said.

"In some cases, business is booming.

"These big retailers are proposing rent reductions or suspensions.

"Some of these claims may be justified but it is not fair for private landlords to bear a disproportionate burden and for a tactic that appears to be applied carte blanche nationwide."

Mr Laming named seven retailers during the meeting and called on other MPs to check if similar practices had taken place in their communities.

Supercheap Auto and Rebel, owned by ASX listed company Super Retail Group, were among those Mr Laming claimed had applied for rent relief.

But a company spokesperson fired back, saying rent had been paid based on sales for each of its stores and many had paid rent in full.

"In line with the federal government's recommendation for tenants and landlords to work together to manage the financial impact of COVID-19, Super Retail Group has been working constructively with its landlords," the spokesperson said.

"Given the unprecedented challenges faced by the Australian economy, we are seeking to pay rent based on ... if store sales have declined by 10 per cent or more.

"All other stores are paying rent in full. This means unless store sales during the COVID-19 crisis decrease, we are still paying rent, and have paid in full."

Under the government's rent relief scheme, reductions are based on a tenant's decline in trade during the pandemic.

Mr Laming said he had contacted some companies and found they had backtracked on their decision to apply for relief.

"I commend them for coming to their senses, but it wasn't fair to send out these threatening letters without first establishing the impact on turnover and profitability during COVID19," he said.

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