Dubai businesses seek rental relief from private landlords

The government backed entities have offered up to three months of rental relief to their retail clients due to slump in business activities.

  
General view of a deserted street during the lockdown to counter the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dubai, United Arab Emirates April 14, 2020. Image used for illustrative purpose.

General view of a deserted street during the lockdown to counter the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dubai, United Arab Emirates April 14, 2020. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
UAE - In line with measures taken by the government-backed developers, the UAE businessmen urged the private landlords to reduce rents in order to overcome Covid-19 challenges.

Mahmood Bangara, chairman of AMT Group, said small and medium businesses are backbone of the UAE and other economies.

"With respect to rent, several free zones, governmental entities, major malls and really houses have declared rental holidays some for 3 months. However, SME establishments where predominantly the landlords are private owners, businesses expect clear binding guidelines for a 3 month rental holiday to be given. There is a complex equation, as these landlords will also have borrowing on rental properties or cash flow. So the deferral of landlord's installments by the banking system is a critical requirement," said Bangara, who is former chairman of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India's Dubai chapter.

The government backed entities have offered up to three months of rental relief to their retail clients due to slump in business activities following the restrictions on movement to contain the virus. Free zones, property developers such as Nakheel, and well-diversified groups such as Dubai Holding and Meraas have offered rent relief to their customers over the last few weeks. And owners of the private companies also seek similar kind of relief from their private landlords - especially in Deira and Bur Dubai areas - where majority of the small and medium businesses operate.

"It should be a collective package for SME's with rental holidays coordinated by Ministry of Economy, RERA, bankers and Central Bank. The general practice is to pay rent through post-dated cheque. A guideline to overlook such cheque without disrupting the credit history of SME's should be looked into. Historically these businesses had been in paramount role in growing this economy and creating employments," he said.

Another businessman, Irfan Afsar, director for Mr. Xpert Technical Services, was more philosophical, saying this is should be a collective effort both by the employers and employees as these are testing time and everyone should act, and think, collectively.

"Let us not forget that the UAE is a home away from home and it has given us a lot. So, it is the time to stand with the government of the UAE. Given the fact that they have many challenges, so we should bring us to the forefront and start thinking about one another.

"One should not be naïve about getting some smaller relief from landlords or employers only. Employees should also understand that employers are also not getting paid or they are in the similar situation. So we should also put ourselves in their shoes and think collectively to help each other to stand together. Because together we can achieve more," said Afsar. 

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