Commercial property landlords to work with tenants ‘at least’ through Christmas

Commercial property landlords to work with tenants ‘at least’ through Christmas
David Morley

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Commercial property landlords are formulating plans to work with tenants and get them ‘at least’ through the typically busy Christmas period, according to a well-known realtor and commercial property specialist.

David Morley, Morley Real Estate’s president said the past several months have involved “a lot of hand holding”.

He told Eyewitness News that there was ‘no doubt’ that the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency order shutdowns have impacted the commercial rental market.

Morley’s firm is one of the largest commercial property management company’s in the country — managing more than 40 properties on New Providence.

“In the last several months my business has been a lot of hand-holding,” he said.

“I’ve been holding landlord and tenant’s hands equally and trying to get them through this. I don’t envy retailers or landlords. It’s just a situation we have all been confronted with and we have to all get through this together.”

He continued: “There is no doubt that COVID-19 and the emergency order shutdowns have affected the commercial rental market.  This is uncharted territory.

“What has taken place is that landlords have realized that they had to give concessions in order to keep their tenants. There weren’t any specific guidelines to how much or how long but it really came down to each landlord. Most landlords did give concessions but not equal across the board.

“For instance, for tenant businesses that are essential such as banks, grocery stores and pharmacies that were allowed to continue to operate during the shutdown, the landlords felt there was no reason to give concessions.”

He said: “There was a time when some restaurants and other businesses were allowed to do curbside and at that time some concessions were slightly reduced considering that they were allowed to operate. For those tenants that were out of operation until the lockdown was lifted, landlords gave the maximum concessions.”

Morley noted that in many instances, landlords depend on the rental income to cover the maintenance and upkeep of the property, and payment of expenses like real property tax.

“Most landlords said if I could at least pay my operating expenses I am happy to work with my tenants and give concessions,” Morley said.

He added: “Most landlords are saying let’s be practical and see if we can come up with a plan to work with our tenants and get them at least through Christmas which is historically a good period for retailers.

“Most landlords are formulating plans in which they can work for tenant retention purposes.”

Bahamas Real Estate Association president Christine Wallace-Whitfield told Eyewitness News that while she does not handle many commercial properties, she has ‘surprisingly’ been involved with a few since the initiation of lockdowns in March.

“The landlords have been quite flexible,” she said.

“I have noticed that landlords are understanding what the situation is right now. I think it is important that we are mindful of those who are minded to start something new. I know a few people who are looking for spaces to start a new business.”