Pete Carr Morrisons New Brighton
Supermarket shelves were stripped bare in the early days of the UK outbreak escalating, like these in Morrisons New Brighton, but supermarkets are paying rent and are doing great service to communities. Image by Pete Carr

‘We will remember how tenants behaved’

Non-paying retailers still trading, housing scare stories and MIPIM losses. One landlord shares his view of the world two weeks into lockdown.

Coming back in the New Year we were brow beaten – Brexit, election and Christmas. I had said during this, it is like the dotcom crash, when the economy didn’t collapse but steadied, and then grew through to 2007. The current economy had surged, but then Brexit et al steadied it and, just like in the aftermath of the dotcom bubble bursting, we were waiting for a new surge as business had renewed certainty of the majority government.

So, we were feeling relatively positive in the New Year and it was head down until MIPIM. It started well but a lot of news – floods, storms, a virus in China still kept slowing things down. MIPIM being cancelled was the first time I took notice; we had a lot of money out on the event and all of a sudden it was uncertain whether we would see a refund. And then the avalanche came.

So what observations in these early days? Two of note.

The first is the non-payment of rent. I understand the argument for businesses to not pay rent where they have had to close. Our office is closed, but we continue to pay our rent. The difference here is we are able to work from home and productivity is not zero. Where shops or leisure has closed, staff are off and there is zero income, I can understand why they cannot pay rent going forward. There is a grey area in the argument that they have had a good Christmas and traded the first quarter, but I get it.

What I don’t get is tenants who are trading, and trading well, and not paying any rent or service charge.

Tesco and Sainsburys are paying rent and are the respectable face of this – when the crisis subsides, I think we will remember how these tenants behaved – both in a property sense and in serving communities. Bravo!

Certain tenants, Poundstretcher being one, have issued letters to landlords saying they will not be paying and yet have been open every day since the crisis began, and are “trading very well” in the one store which we have spoken to.

Whilst Poundstretcher want to work “proactively and in partnership”, the announcement that no rent or service charge will be paid in a generic letter is not a good way to engender this. It feels like some tenants, the less professional or respectable ones, are taking the crisis to be an opportunity to ride through the goodwill offered by the business community to fill their pockets as quickly as possible. This will not be forgotten.

Secondly, the press are grabbing column inches by announcing that house sales have stopped, and that the government has announced this. It is rubbish and is grinding the housing market to a standstill. Homes can still trade and sales are going through. I completed the sale of personal apartment this week, but the fake news being touted to gain column inches will be seen, when this is over, to have done as much harm for the house building industry as the virus itself.

These are two of many observations I have and if invited back again, I will update as things develop.

Your Comments

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One of the most angry and ill toned “opinion” pieces I have ever read. I cant see a single ounce of empathy in here.

I am sure the tenant will thoroughly enjoy being named. That seems potentially unprofessional. The final flourish with “I’m alright Jack, I’ve just sold my my rental apartment” was a master stroke.

No wonder this was written anonymously.

By J Ryan

Does what it says on the tin.`

By Poundstretcher

Poundstretcher are Taking advantage of the situation and not paying landlords landlords in the south-east have not been paid as well landlords will not forget this

By Mike

“MIPIM being cancelled was the first time I took notice”. Dear God.

By G Jones

I’d write a stiff letter to my MP!! And to the Daily Telegraph!!!

How unprofessional to name a tenant.

LL

By Liver lad

This article sums up everything wrong with the UK property industry at the moment IMHO. Both in terms of the author and the subject. Too much ‘me me me’.

By MAncLAd

Got to be written by an Agent – used to taking a fat fee from other’s hard work for very little input

By Stretched

Every little helps.

By Tesco

When this is over increase their rents

By Robert Tonge

How and why can this be anonymous? If you’re going to express opinion, at least make it a personal one. It could have been written by a schoolkid, we’ll never know!

By Steve Edgeller

Unfortunately, most people believe that Landlords just sits back and receive rents. This is not the case, as Landlords are the ones that have taken risks and borrowed extensively so that tenants can occupy property (to make money) that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
On the same basis as loans have to be serviced, rents have to be paid. Unfortunately, we live in a selfish society where most people can only see as far as their little noses.

By WM Ewington

Was this written by Jeremy Clarkson?

By P Land

I am a landlord and find this article misguided. I am talking to my tenants everyday and offering them rent holidays beyond their requests. It’s sensible business. The tenants will remember the landlords. Fool!!!

By Landlord

Those poor landlords. Can we have round of mass applause for the oppressed landlords please? 12pm tonight.

By Brian

How dare you. Landlords have been inflexible, standoffish, and have used the laws to their own effect for generations. The first time in history people actually have rights as tenants, and you dare to criticise it?. Noone, I mean no person in the UK will have an iota of sympathy for you. Personally I hope this crisis rids society of leeches such as you.

By Troy1966

Naive opinion and commentary and a property article that shows a very misguided side to this industry. There are plenty of landlords working with tenants and their lenders and a housing market that has had to hibernate in the current climate and put itself into standstill.

By Taxed

I amongst the whingeing there is actually a legitimate point here. Yes, as a residential landlord I would give my tenant a rent holiday in a heartbeat if she requested it, because A. she isn’t a profit making concern and B. I can afford not to get the rent for a while. Imagine you are a smallish commercial landlord, who is struggling a bit as you are still paying your staff and other overheads, including, ironically, rent. Imagine now your highly profitable tenant decides not to pay the rent just because they can. That is a massive insult. No, he shouldn’t have named the tenant, and no, most people don’t like landlords much. But he is right in a sense, and he does have employees to pay himself, let’s not forget.

By James C.

As I have been saying to my tenants, when you have s busy period and make s load of money, do you every come and pay me any extra rent (no, and I wouldn’t expect you to). To burst a myth, the returns landlords make as %ages are miniscule compared to what the business occupying the premises makes.

By Tom

My landlord gave me a new tenancy agreement on the 22nd March 2020, and put my rent up by £70 per month, my place hasn’t been touched by him for 8yrs, my bathroom is old with very narrow bath no shower, kitchen is unlevel flooring so not to good for cooking, washing machine, all on blocks of wood to level them out, kitchen units handmade and falling apart, private landlords get away with too much.

By Andy

The people moaning about landlords have not got a clue what they are talking about. I am a property landlord that also works. Some of my family members are also property owners both commercial and residential and also work. We are all off work with 80% wage yet some non essential tenants are still open with a rawing trade and demanding to pay no rent. It is not the case that most landlords have vast amounts of wealth under their mattress. There are people out there that were taught about and learnt about money at a young age which meant we looked after our money. This enabled us to invest in property. If that offends or upsets people so be it. And for the record the tenants that genuinely cannot pay because they have closed we are doing everything we can to protect them. For the others we I’ll remember.

By Paul

Tenants of all kinds are trying their luck – whether their trading or not. LL are stuck betwix a rock and a hard place ;all we can do is manage tenants and offer rent holidays, but by God when this is over they’re going to be hit HARD.

By Jim

Re the housing market still trading. It may be that where parties were under contract prior to the lockdown these transactions have completed what is the case that with the closure or paring down to statutory functions of many local authorities the searches that form part of the domestic conveyancing process are now not available. Anyone can buy at risk but it’s unlikely that mortgage brokers will lend without due diligence being carried out.
So if you think that it’s BAU or could be in this market perhaps you should think again.

By David Sellars

Love the jump on the lazy tabloid comments that all landlords are evil. Change that to all property owners are evil and see how many change their minds. Stop being sheep. Someone has to build places for people to work and live and they are called landlords when the development is finished.

By Bored Tabloid Junk

Good for you for selling your apartment. Meanwhile, the vast majority of first time buyers cannot get a mortgage as believe it or not, the housing market is affected by coronavirus. Look out of your little bubble for once. Why should valuers go to properties and put themselves at risk? Why should mortgage advisors and underwriters go sit in an office and put themselves at risk. You should like an incredibly selfish person.

By Anon

Yes, of course they are taking advantage. Landlods are coming out worse than anyone. Private tenants are loving this too. They have no intention of reaching deeper to pay. The government have got it wrong again. They should pay 80% of all rents and direct to landlords if they want to please tenants. We are tge whipping boys yet sgain.

By Ingrid

I totally agree with every word. There are a lot of opportunistic individuals and businesses milking this crisis.
I have an NHS consultant renting my house who decided to stop paying his rent leaving me struggling to pay my bills. We know his income is secure. But where does this leave me.
This government has just added choas to a very difficult situation.
I sympathise with those people who genuinely need the rental holidays and landlords should support and give them the option.
Unfortunately it’s becoming dog eats dog with this crisis.

By Just another comment

I say landlords aren’t all bad they’ve worked to get where they are some are bad but some very good we all have Bill’s to pay I’m only tenant but understand so working together best way

By Tony

Well done for naming the tenant. We need more of this. We need transparency and accountability. We really need more public shaming

By Anonymous

Lets not forget too, many supermarkets are coining it in and profiteering with many small item lines going up in price 50-75%. You never see a grocer riding a bike. Whilst there may be some shortages of fresh items, veg, etc, many large supermarket retailers are choosing to keep items off the shelves, releasing them slowly so they can charge more. Why has fruit gone up in price, the ships are still arriving at Liverpool, and the lorries still moving the stuff. Petrol prices haven’t fallen, yet there is a glut of petrol, have you seen the amount of tankers waiting to off load at Milford or Tranmere? If the supermarkets really want to help, then they have to stop short dated goods, forcing you back into the store every three or four days. Stack shelves at night and remove the army of staff preventing social distancing. The problem will come if this goes on for months, when it is all over we will be so used to on-line shopping, town centres are going to suffer even more!

By Anonymous

The world’s smallest violin springs to mind.

By As anonymous as the writer