Commercial tenants and retail crisis

 

Sir, – As the country continues to open up over the coming weeks, spare a thought for the many businesses that operate in premises that are held in commercial leases.

Some tenants have to reckon with paying up to 100 per cent of the rent for all the time they were closed, whereas some commercial tenants with amicable landlords will pay nothing for their closed periods. It really is down to the luck of the draw, which doesn’t seem particularly fair.

Commercial leases are being weaponised against some tenants to insulate landlords from some or all of the losses caused by pandemic closures. They have wrapped this up neatly in that sacred cow, their constitutional property rights, a favourite property industry talking point.

The Government issued a “code of conduct” to both sides on commercial leases back in October. The code is a perfect fig-leaf for a Government that wants to appear to be helping commercial tenants. The code is voluntary and has absolutely no legal standing. Tenants who have amicable landlords didn’t need this. More importantly, this code is less than useless to tenants who need protection from adversarial landlords, as the code is literally confirming to landlords that they can’t be compelled to show forbearance.

The time has come to legally compel commercial landlords to shoulder their fair share of the losses and burden caused (so far) by the pandemic, across the board.

There has to be a better way for commercial tenants to do business in Ireland. Many tenants are caught in a maelstrom not of their making and will be penalised, or even put out of business, if they’re unlucky enough to have an unsympathetic landlord. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET MOORE,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.