Sydney’s obsession with real estate has, for the last decade, reached a new low in the heights of savagery. Not only do developers continue to tighten their grip, ruining the city with god-awful apartment drones but commercial properties continue to rent out at prices that strangle the life-blood out of small business owners such as cafe and restaurant owners. Despite the horror of Covid-19’s effect on small hospitality businesses, it is still common practice for rental properties to be auctioned. Not auctioned for sale – auctioned to potential tenants. With real estate agents acting as unlicensed auctioneers.

Agencies are quite happy to announce to all in attendance at their open inspections that “…anyone willing to offer above the rental price will have their application looked upon very favourably” but they are most certainly more than willing to engage applicants into a bidding war. After applying, prepare for the phone calls from the agent. The opening line is basically, “What are you prepared to pay for that property?” And not because the owner is now getting downlights installed to make it look more snazzy.

So yes indeed, restaurant, bar and cafe owners, barely making ends meet, are doing their utmost to make their venues as comfortable to the customers as possible. And for Sydney’s most creative electricians, being able to instal cool downlights is just the tip of the iceberg. Fancy light sculptures like those found in Sydney’s Vivid Festival – indeed many of them acquired directly from that event, are also a way to set societal tongues a-wagging.

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The Small Bar Look is definitely in, and interior designers, electricians and even plumbers all have vital roles to play in helping each venue succeed where otherwise it might fail.

Once upon a time Sydney’s inner west was a cheaper alternative for people wanting to set up a cafe, small bar or restaurant, and services like Sydney inner west electricians and other tradie services were also more affordable. But gentrification, which is often a wonderful thing – has its price that we all have to pay – and so often now commercial rents in Annandale, Newtown, Glebe and Leichhardt are prohibitive. Even worse are Leichhardt parking inspectors looking to pounce at any moment – horrible place – don’t go there! Force business owners to tell their council parking rats to BACK OFF! I haven’t been back in 3 years since getting a ticket on a weeknight when there was no-one around at all – stuff Leichhardt!

Back to our pet peeve of the decade:

Cafe, restaurant and small bar would-be-owners, don’t be fooled into thinking that whatever the advertised commercial rent is the right answer. Over a number of days, you will be informed of such gems as, “Another $50 may keep you in the running,” and, “another applicant is prepared to pay $150 more – would you like to better that?” These amounts are not per month but per week; and there is no proof that others are upping the ante. You have to “trust” them on that.

Commercial renters are generally kicked to the kerb in terms of general respect, and there is no legislation that reflects their unending fiscal contribution to the maintenance and expansion of the property portfolios of commercial landlords. Does this blatant practice at least not constitute false and misleading advertising? There is no security in renting though tenants including hospitality indeed pay mortgages – just never their own. Try using the $180k in rent paid over the last ten years as proof to the bank that you’re eligible for a loan.

Commercial bathroom remodelling is on the rise and this has been yet another one of those government real estate grants phenomenons that give false hope to society’s poorest. The trickery of the Homebuilder grant is that it gave a freest-of-free free kick to society’s richest, who immediately set about using it to renovate their bathrooms, kitchens or homes in general, or just buying yet another property for their portfolios, while the poorest struggle to scrape together the funds to be eligible for a first home, a small pokey, soulless apartment, which as it happens has just gone up in price by $25,000 to cash in on the fact that poor people might scrape that as a small grant. Nice work New South Wales.