Since the Coronavirus Act was introduced on March 25th, negotiations over rent concessions between a few commercial landlords, and their occupiers, have made headline news over the issuing of Winding Up Petitions where reduced cash flow, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been cited as the reason for non-payment.
This draconian approach has thankfully not been adopted by all landlords. The Wilky Group, a private, family owned property investment and development company founded over 70 years ago, has taken a more proactive role from the start in seeking to work with their occupiers to reach mutually acceptable agreements to reduce rental payments whilst the pandemic is impacting on the business world.
The company, who operate a portfolio of serviced and managed office buildings with no external shareholders or financiers to report to, is able to respond flexibly and quickly to changes in the market and occupier requirements. Even before Lockdown, the Group was engaged in two major initiatives which anticipated the spirit of the Government recently issued Code of Practice guide for negotiating between landlords and tenants:
(1) working with occupiers in an open way to agree revised rent payment schedules and other terms to assist occupier cashflow in one of the most challenging events in living memory. Using various measures, including extending and blending tenant payment periods, the Group has agreed ‘concessions’ with 25% of its occupiers.
(2) Working with occupiers to ensure their payment of Business Rates and qualification for Small Business Rate Relief was eligible for the Small Business Grant of £10,000. The total grant received is over £260,000 paid so far plus their rates saving.
The Wilky Group has found that working with occupiers to share the pain has served to strengthen the relationship. The result, so far, has seen only four businesses across its four centres leave the premises as a direct result of the Pandemic. In addition, over the last three months, all other occupiers have fulfilled their payments, largely due to The Group’s management and staff going the extra mile.
Malcolm Young, CEO said: “More recently our concentration has moved to creating COVID-19 secure workplaces, again anticipating any government guidelines, for occupiers and their staff and ensuring that they remain safe and confident in their workplace.
“We are well aware that there may be more requests for assistance in the not too distant future when furloughing ceases. We will continue to adopt the same approach to try to work with our occupiers through this difficult time. I would always urge our occupiers to talk to us rather than rely on the government continuing policy to suspend eviction beyond September – you never know what reaction you might get to a request for help and support!”
For more information about The Wilky Group visit www.wilky.co.uk
Pictured: Serviced office at Fetcham Park, part of The Wilky Group portfolio of business centres.