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Rent relief for commercial property owners

Bereng Mpaki

OWNERS of commercial properties will soon share M50 million from a government rent relief scheme that is being implemented to cushion businesses against the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government has tasked the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) to administer the scheme. The LRA announced last week that it had started implementing the scheme after receiving the funds from the government.

Acting LRA commissioner ‘Mathabo Mokoko the programme was influenced by the government’s understanding of the plight of commercial property tenants as a result of Covid-19.

“The rent relief scheme was created by the government with the understanding that during the lockdown period, businesses had no means to make money to pay rent for their operations,” Ms Mokoko said.

“The government understands that this can create a serious burden on taxpayers’ businesses and therefore, we are reliving them of that burden. The LRA has been given M50 million by the government to be used for the rent relief scheme.”

She said applicants must follow strict and transparent guidelines to access the funding among them tax compliance.

“Who would have known that being tax compliant could be so beneficial? So, for those who have not yet filled their returns, please pay your taxes because sometimes it comes back to you in a very nice way.”

She indicated that the scheme applies for the month of April 2020, during which Lesotho had imposed a hard lockdown.

She said businesses that are eligible for the rent subsidy must be small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) that are up to date with their tax obligations.

A sub-lease agreement between the property owner or manager that is not less than three months old is required and a business must be up to date with its rental payments.

To access the scheme, property owners must fill a registration form while the tenant must fill in a payment request. Payment will be made within seven days if all requirements are met.

These forms can be obtained from the LRA website and at LRA advice or service centres.

Applications are being received from 14 October until 15 January 2021.

The rent subsidy however, excludes residential property, commercial properties occupied by tenants who were operational during national lockdown; LNDC, BEDCO, City Councils and Government tenants and any other property owners whose properties are not rented out to commercial tenants.

 

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