More developers offer rent freezes in UAE to ease coronavirus hardships

Big businesses pledge to cancel rent payments for more than a month to three months

Image used for illustrative purpose. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Image used for illustrative purpose. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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As the coronavirus continues to rattle economies around the world, more developers and property owners in the UAE are stepping up to help ease the hardships experienced by tenants.

Analysts have warned that the real estate sector in the country is not immune to the fallout from the global pandemic, with efforts to contain the spread of the virus leaving many businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), struggling to get by and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

The UAE had earlier rolled out economic stimulus packages to cushion the financial impact of the virus, and recently some big businesses have come up with their own initiatives to contribute to the relief efforts.

A few real estate firms are now offering rent freezes, instalment plans and waiver of transaction fees.

Among the latest to announce its relief programme, Sultan bin Ali Al Qwais Real Estate, which owns 3,000 properties across the UAE, said on Monday that its tenants don’t need to pay their rent for the next one month and a half.

The company said the 45-day rent waiver is “in line with the prevailing global conditions result from the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Tenants that have been with us for decades are practically family for us… We just want to make sure that our tenants have one less thing to worry about during these difficult times,” said Haleema Al Owais, CEO of the real estate firm.

Al Hamra, a real estate developer, services provider and investment company in Ras Al Khaimah, said on Monday that it is also offering a three-month “rental relief” for mall tenants, freehold owners, residents and other customers who have been impacted by the virus.

“This pandemic is reshaping the way we think about community and has made one thing strikingly clear: our interdependence. We are working closely with our stakeholders to ensure that we recover from this period together, stronger and more resilient,” said Benoy Kurien, group CEO of Al Hamra.

The company, which owns several properties, including Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach, Manor and Al Hamra Malls and Al Hamra Village, is also offering to reduce cooling consumption charges, defer fees, waive payment delay penalties and extend payment due dates.

At Provis, Aldar Properties’ wholly-owned estate management firm, tenants can benefit from “flexible rental payment schemes and exemptions on different transactional fees.” Property owners can also avail themselves of flexible service charges payment plans.

“These flexible payment schemes will offer tenants, as deemed applicable, flexible payment plan through rescheduling installments to up to 12 monthly instalments instead of annually, bi-annually or quarterly,” a Provis spokesperson told Zawya.

The company said it will also facilitate the recall of the original cheques issued by tenants and replace them with monthly dated cheques with no penalty or additional fee.

On Saturday, the Dubai Free Zones Council said it will postpone the rent payments by a period of six months for businesses. 

The coronavirus that was first detected in China continues to move at ferocious rates, infecting more than 720,000 worldwide as of Monday, jumping by about 100,000 in 24 hours.

The fast-spreading deadly virus has forced many countries to pull passenger planes out of service, close down borders and urge citizens to stay in their homes.

In the UAE, all the malls, as well as commercial establishments - excluding those in the essential services industry -  have been shut down. With practically almost all forms of business activity grinding to a halt, fears of a global recession have now intensified.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)


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