PROPERTY: Business Tenants Struggling
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PROPERTY rentals, particularly in the A grade commercial and retail space seem to have bottomed out. However, it is not certain how much longer the market will remain in this plateau before firming once more, says Marc Edwards, the managing director of Cape Town-based Spire Property Management.
“A number of tenants are still struggling, which will result in continued pressure on vacancies and debtors going forward,” says Edwards.
“The main reason for this continued pressure, despite rentals being relatively low, is the increased cost of occupancy that tenants are faced with. This is primarily as a result of increased electricity tariffs throughout the country - with Eskom only recently promoting a future tariff hike.”
“These continued increases in utility costs have resulted in rentals coming under tremendous pressure. Landlords need to make reductions in the cost of occupancy their primary focus in the short to medium term,” says Edwards, who advises that the obvious place to start is electricity management, where simple changes such as converting to LED lighting or utilising other energy efficient light bulbs can have an immediate impact on a tenants cost of occupancy.
There are numerous consulting firms who can assist landlords in planning a strategic utility cost reduction and Eskom itself is willing to engage with landlords to educate them on how to reduce their expenses and their impact on the main power grid.
Edwards advises that tenant education is vital for the success of any cost reduction strategy as they are the end users and can have the fastest impact. “Landlords should try and incentivise their tenants to reduce their demand wherever possible and there are many ways that one can do this, including transparent energy readings, up to the minute easy to understand demand graphs, etc. Many of these would be implemented once a consultant is sourced.”
According to Edwards, another important tool that must be used by landlords is that of benchmarking. “Landlords need to compare the performance of their buildings against similar properties in the same geographic area to ensure that it is matching, if not outperforming similar buildings.”
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