Dundrum Town Centre co-owner, Hammerson, complained to its investors this week about a recent move by the UK government to extend until 2022 a moratorium on evicting commercial tenants over pandemic rent arrears. The stock market-listed group suggested the ban on enforcement action could hamper the recovery in the UK and it said the extension to next year is "inexplicable".
In Ireland, meanwhile, Hammerson and other retail landlords face no such restriction on clobbering tenants who can't or won't pay up. High Court lists are littered with summary judgment cases brought by various retail landlords against store owners.
As well as its stake in Dundrum (co-owned with Allianz), Hammerson also co-owns the Ilac Centre in Dublin city and the Pavilions shopping centre in Swords. It also owns 40 per cent of Value Retail, which owns the Kildare Village outlets centre just to the southwest of Dublin.
But even though Hammerson has a freer hand to act against retail tenants in Ireland compared to Britain, it has generally been viewed as one of the more pragmatic shopping centre landlords in terms of giving tenants rent breaks.
While some Dublin shopping centres – the Omni in Santry stands out – have been scrutinised within the sector for the stubbornness of their lockdown rent demands, Hammerson freely cut deals last year to give many of its Irish tenants discounts on their rent for anti-virus closure periods.
The near five-month lockdown in Ireland earlier this year took a toll on Hammerson’s operation here. The group, which also owns assets in the UK and France, collected 71 per cent of all rents due in the first half of the year, according to its interim results this week. In Ireland, however, it only managed to collect 65 per cent of what was due, and that is likely to already include discounts for closure periods.
Lockdowns are ruinous not just for shops, but also for landlords. The property and retail sectors will be hoping that this winter is better than last year’s.