Coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern blasts commercial rent hikes amid COVID-19 lockdown

The Prime Minister has condemned commercial landlords who are hiking rents during the coronavirus lockdown, labelling their behaviour "utterly unfathomable".

In a press conference on Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern was asked why there had not been a freeze on commercial rents as there had been for residential.

"Because we couldn't," she replied. "The Residential Tenancy Act gives us different abilities that the Property Act does not.

"But what we wanted to was create the same additional buffer as we have for residential."

To create this buffer, the Government extended the removal period for commercial tenancies from 10 days to 30 days, to allow businesses to catch up on rent amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

However Ardern says at the end of the day, landlords need to "be good citizens".

"It is utterly unfathomable in this situation to see some of what we've seen, including increases on commercial rent," she said.

"I would urge landlords to think about what happens if you do remove someone from your commercial property. Who will tenant it now?

"Work with your tenants, and just be a good human being."