Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By ROSANNA CAN­DLER

FRUS­TRATED in­de­pen­dent Su­bi­aco business own­ers say they are strug­gling to keep their heads above wa­ter in a “per­fect storm” of un­rea­son­ably high rents and record low trade.

On Jan­uary 2, Bistro des Artistes restau­ra­teur Alain Fabregues wrote ‘Su­bi­aco is not Paris or London – $1000 per square me­ter is un­ac­cept­able’ on his Hay Street restau­rant’s win­dow in a protest against his land­lord Bar­rie Lepley in­creas­ing the rent by 66 per cent.

Across the road at Fly Home home­wares and cafe, owner Tess Lyon said she al­ready paid $1072 per square me­tre.

“Right now I am barely keep­ing my head above wa­ter,” Ms Lyon said.

“I have been ap­peal­ing to my land­lord for six months and there is ab­so­lutely zero ne­go­ti­a­tion; ei­ther you pay up or pay to get out of your lease.

“It would cost me about $50,000 to leave, so ob­vi­ously I can­not af­ford to do ei­ther.”

Ms Lyon said she signed her lease “in good faith” about two years ago think­ing she could make it work.

“My won­der­ful reg­u­lar cus­tomers are keep­ing us alive, but if you look on to the street, there is just no­body here,” she said.

“If you invest in com­mer­cial prop­erty, surely it would make sense that you should care about the business com­mu­nity you have bought into.”

CARE Realty di­rec­tor Tony Gates, who man­ages and leases com­mer­cial prop­er­ties on Rokeby Road, said the av­er­age rate for a stan­dard-sized re­tail premises in Su­bi­aco was $600 to $700 per square me­tre.

“Go­ing back be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the rents went up to about $1100 per square me­tre, but since then they have been drop­ping back down,” Mr Gates said.

“Ten­ants may have signed leases four or five years ago when prices were at their peak.”

Hay Street bou­tique Em­po­ria owner Toni Manolas said rent in­creases were never a wel­come thing, but in a down­turn mar­ket, it only made the sit­u­a­tion in Su­bi­aco that much worse.

“It would be great if land­lords could cal­i­brate their ideas to match their mar­kets,” Ms Manolas said.

“It’s a shame that hu­man­ity is of­ten lost when deal­ing with com­merce and the econ­omy.”

Western Sub­urbs Business As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Ge­off Par­nell said it was “highly un­usual” for rent to in­crease in the cur­rent mar­ket.

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