LANDLORDS are being urged to “share the burden” of the coronavirus crisis with Scotland’s small business community, after it emerged one in seven of such firms fear they will unable to make rent payments during the rest of 2020.

The call comes from the Federation of Small Businesses, as it published the results of its survey and flagged differing behaviours among landords. The FSB says some have “piled pressure on”.

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The poll showed 68 per cent of rent-paying small businesses in Scotland had been forced to pay rent as normal through the Covid-19 crisis, with only 23% able to negotiate some variety of compromise with their landlords. Over winter and into spring, the FSB wants more commercial landlords to offer rent discounts, and payment deferments and holidays to small business tenants “grappling with the coronavirus crisis”.

Andrew McRae, FSB Scotland policy chair, said: “Over the course of 2020, Scottish businesses located in high streets, office blocks and industrial estates have faced everything from disruption to temporary closure. Many of these firms have seen a collapse in their income, while others have not been able to use their premises since the start of the year. Feedback from our members suggests that some landlords have done the right thing and offered flexibility to their small business tenants. Other landlords, however, have offered no such help and have piled pressure on local operators.”

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Mr McRae added: “As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, we want to see more landlords share the burden of this crisis with Scotland’s small business community. We want to see these property owners, and their representatives, get in contact with their tenants and pro-actively offer help to see them through the winter. While the Scottish Government has introduced some measures aimed at strengthening tenants’ hand, many small businesses have told us that their landlord has refused to budge.”