The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown, exempted certain sectors in the retail environment from the scope of the Competition Act for the duration of the lockdown.
Therefore, employers who have rental agreements with landlords in the retail property sector, eg retail centers, and who are involved in the retailing of clothing, footwear and home textile, personal care services and restaurants may enter into agreements with their landlords in respect of the following:
- payment holidays and/or rental discounts for tenants;
- limitations on the eviction of tenants; and
- the suspension or adjustment of lease agreement clauses that restrict the designated retail tenants from undertaking reasonable measures required to protect viability during the national disaster.
To qualify for an exemption, such agreements must extend to all South African retail tenants in the designated retail lines, including small, independent retailers, unless otherwise authorised by the Minister or the Competition Commission.
Please note that the purpose of such agreements must be to assist tenants whose survival is in jeopardy due to the Covid-19 lockdown and not due to any other underlying reason.