George’s St owner says charging tenants rent would be ‘immoral’

Gwen Layden says waiving charge during lockdown has cost family up to €500,000

Gwen Layden, landlord of the George’s Street Arcade, on December 1st, 2020, as the State exited a second partial coronavirus lockdown.

Gwen Layden, landlord of the George’s Street Arcade, on December 1st, 2020, as the State exited a second partial coronavirus lockdown.

 

The owner of the family-owned George’s Street Arcade in Dublin city centre has said it would be “immoral” to charge rent to her tenants during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Speaking to Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, Gwen Layden said the decision to waive rents at the famous retail arcade has cost her family between €400,000 and €500,000 in lost income.

“We took the decision to suspend rents for the lockdown. You can’t charge rent if they’re not making money,” she said. “It’s immoral really because they [tenants] won’t have the money to pay you, and they’ll take it from their family savings, which isn’t fair.

“We tailor the rents that are realistic and we have taken it out of our own savings. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. It definitely is hurting and dad [Joe Layden] is 77 and he’s been fantastic. But I don’t see any other way. The alternative is that the business closes and a shutter down is good for nobody.”

The arcade dates from 1892 and hosts 42 businesses, including 21 stalls. Last December was the only month since the first lockdown in March 2020 that tenants were charged their full rent. “The most important thing is that the businesses survive.”

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