Struggling shopkeepers will be allowed to close without giving notice, the Housing Authority decided yesterday. But there will be no rent cuts for those who stay open. Rents for about 7,000 shops in authority properties due for review have been frozen until December to help shopkeepers overcome the economic downturn. Merchants said business had dropped 30 per cent. They warned some shops would close without a rent cut and called for the rent freeze to be extended retrospectively to last October, which would help 850 shops. 'We have to maintain the original proposal as the 850 shops already signed contracts before we proposed the rent freeze,' said Victor So Hing-woh, chairman of the authority's Commercial Properties Committee. 'But we also understand some shops are in financial difficulties, so we have agreed today that they can terminate their leasehold with no prior condition.' That means shopkeepers do not need to give three months' notice of withdrawal or be fined for failing to do so. The committee said operators should have considered economic risks when they started a business, so rent reductions should not be introduced.