Ferose Oaten, owner and MD of AVTS Roadworthy Stations answers:
'Rent is a big issue right now, for households and for businesses. At the beginning of the lockdown I sat and went through every single debit order the business has and looked at the rent for each of our our seven branches, and negotiated with each of the landlords.
‘I found that every landlord is different. Some were more generous; some were less generous. Some were very open to negotiation. One actually said, ‘Listen, just forget about April and May, and we’ll talk again in June.’
Others gave refundable 50% discounts, which we will have to pay back over the lease period.
‘All we needed was breathing space.’
‘Then there are other complications. The landlord for one of our branches is based overseas and it’s a case of staying in constant communication. But everybody knows what’s happening; it’s not like nobody knows the situation. All we needed was breathing space.
‘When I looked at the list of things the business had to pay, I put a mark next to utilities. I’d prioritise paying for electricity and telephones before paying the rent in full. When the lockdown lifts we go back to business, we need to know that the lights will be on and the telephones will be working from day one.’
Mark van Dijk
An award-winning writer who has written for publications ranging from Sports Illustrated to the official magazine of the JSE.