China
China

Hundreds of thousands of individual landlords and shopping malls have spontaneously offered to cut rent for their tenants and store owners, in a bid to prevent unnecessary traveling and gathering of crowds as China’s anti-epidemic battle has entered a critical stage.

“I won’t collect your February rent. Please rest assured and do what the government says to protect yourself,” a message from Xiong Qiang’s landlord warmed his heart.Xiong runs a barbershop in the city of Nanchang, capital of east China’s Jiangxi Province. He had to shut the door due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. But he still had to pay the staff and a monthly rent of 2,000 yuan (about 287 U.S. dollars). The message set his mind at ease. “I did not expect it and never mentioned the rent with my landlord,” he said.

Nie Ming, the landlord, owns a restaurant himself and is also under great pressure. But he still chose to cut the rent for several tenants. “I cannot go to the frontline to fight the battle. So this is another way for me to make a contribution,” he said. Voluntary cutting of rent is going on across the country, as people are posting the screenshots of messages from their landlords on various social media platforms. “You’d better delay your return and get a month’s rent off.” “I’m not sure whether your income will be affected, but you do not have to pay for your rent this month.” During the seven-day Spring Festival holiday last year, sales of China’s retailing and catering industries totaled over 1 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Commerce. It was predicted the catering industry would lose 500 billion yuan during the holiday this year, said a report from the research institute of Evergrande Group.

Real estate companies have also taken actions to make the situation less difficult for businesses. Industrial giants such as Wanda, Vanke, China Resources, and Longfor announced to relieve the pressure of rental for commercial tenants as most shopping malls were closed during the epidemic. Wanli-Shidai Mall in Jiangxi’s Shangrao City, for instance, has reduced a total of 3 million yuan for business owners inside the mall. “Despite the losses, we should stand up to shoulder responsibilities to help small businesses get through the tough time,” said Wen Jiayun, manager of the mall.Much pressure has been relieved, and we’ll do our best to cooperate with the local government,” said Li Hui, who manages a franchise restaurant in Shangrao. She was able to pay her staff as promised so that they can stay at home waiting patiently for the epidemic to pass.

The local governments in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and other provinces have introduced temporary policies to encourage rent cut and postpone collecting of social insurance premiums. In the meantime, some banks have rolled out plans to postpone due dates of credit card repayment and mortgages for those who have been under treatment of the coronavirus infection or medics fighting the epidemic. More domestic and international hotels, airlines and online travel agencies have rushed to introduce favorable plans such as extending membership and promising discounts for medics. “The epidemic has inspired so much goodwill among individuals and even profit-seeking companies. I am confident that bad days will be over soon,” Nie said.

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