Miles Mowat at his barrow with the sign that he will be closing down this month due to the rent increase at the Pavillion.Picture Zanele Zulu,03/09/2012

Durban - Barrow owners at the Pavilion shopping mall say the centre’s management has made rent so high they will be forced to close by year end.

Glenwood resident Miles Mowat, who has run a barrow selling sports merchandise for five years, says his rent hike of about 21 percent is “too much” and he cannot afford it. He is to close his barrow at the end of the month.

His current rent was R9 000 a month, including VAT, he said, but his new lease would be R9 500 excluding VAT, which raised the total to R10 830.

There were other “hidden” costs, like an extra 10 percent on any amount over R35 000, which pushed the total to R11 500.

Mowat has put up two placards near his barrow which read: “Due to the Pavilion wanting to increase our rent by 21 percent per month we are being forced to close. Closing down sale, less 25 percent on all stock. Business closing 30/09/2012.”

The placards have angered the centre management and he had received an e-mail from the leasing manager instructing him to remove the signs as they were “slandering the landlord”.

Mowat has refused to remove the signs.

“I spoke to management but they refused to negotiate the rent with me. I cannot sustain R11 500 plus pay two staff.”

Another barrow owner, who did not want to be named, said his rent had been increased by 10 percent.

“They want all the barrows out of the mall so they can turn us into kiosks. Rent is increased every year until you close down.”

The owner added that the centre’s management did not negotiate with tenants.

“I have staff. I think management needs a wake-up call.”

Another barrow owner said the problem was that the management ran the rentals on a month-to-month basis.

“It’s hard to grow your business and, if you make more than R35 000 a month, management takes 10 percent.”

The Mercury saw at least seven vacant shops at the Pavilion – two on the second floor and five on the ground floor.

The Pavilion’s general manager Anton Dekker, declined to answer detailed questions, saying he had started work last month and could not speak for action taken before his time.

“All lease negotiations and tenant matters are confidential and it would be grossly unfair to other tenants and unethical to debate this in public.

“Thank you for the opportunity, even though, officially, I do not wish to comment,” he said. - The Mercury