Question :
As a SME business owner who rents a reasonably large office in Wellington CBD, I want to know where I stand with having to pay upcoming utilities bills (specifically power) for a space that I don’t have access to, and can’t use. I know power use will be less than when occupied but I’m sure it will still be ticking over. Do we have grounds to withhold payment to our Power retailer?

Question submitted 30/03/20 @ 12:46pm
Industry: Digital and Technology
  • Hi John,
    Can you ask yourself, if my power went off for three to four weeks at the office right now, is there anything there, I’d need to be working.
    The reason I say this is if you have computers, fridges, communications equipment etc at your offices that you need to keep powered then “ticking over” might be needed. If none of that applies, have you considered a temporary disconnection, some power retailers depending on your office set up, have the ability with “smart meters” to disconnect power to a meter remotely and then turn it back on when you need it. They might try and charge you to do a remote disconnection, but you should negotiate, this is after all unprecedented times and in your case you could be wasting power that could be used somewhere else.

    Hi John

    Regarding rent, this will depend on the tenancy contract. Many contracts have clauses that provide rent relief in a situation where you are unable to access the space leased through no fault of your own.


    The rent clause in leases is unlikely to extend to outgoings. And if the power company bills you direct of course you have to pay unless there is a clause in your contract stating otherwise. Would you want your customers to stop paying you ?

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