Coronavirus rent dispute could see Hackney agency vacate offices after 17 years
PUBLISHED: 10:21 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:13 05 June 2020
A rent dispute during the coronavirus lockdown could see a businesswoman leave the premises from which she has operated for nearly 20 years.
In a scenario being played out across the country, Valery Demure is in talks with her landlord about her fashion and design agency’s future at Regent Studios, in Andrews Road.
Valery has been unable to pay rent for the last three months and the landlord’s management agent, Lewis and Tucker, is asking for it to be paid before the lease is extended.
She first set up shop from Regent Studios 17 years ago and now has two offices on the site. However, she had already decided not to renew the lease on one of those two rooms - used as a gallery - because the rent was too expensive.
“Most of us have not paid rent for April, May and into June and all the landlord was offering was delayed payment (a three-month holiday) which is just increased debt for us,” Valery told the Gazette. “We are all very anxious.”
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Valery, who is seeking legal advice on the issue, now has to move out by June 14: “I will have to put all my furniture into storage, find a new office - I can forget about anything in the summer.
“Everyone in the building is waiting for an answer on a discount for April, May and June - it is not just about me.”
While negotiations are ongoing, Regents Studios tenants have offered to continue paying towards service charge and annual insurance - but without rent until September, and then reduced by 50 per cent for the remainder of the financial year.
A spokesperson for the owner of Regent Studios, City Properties Limited, said this asks the company to accept 25p on every £1 owed for the year: “The coronavirus has affected all of us and we are seeking to find a compromise that helps all parties during these challenging times.
“We have already offered rent holidays and deferrals and discussions are ongoing regarding future payments. In the meantime we have continued to pay for the maintenance of the units as well as covering other expenses for the building. We are trying to find a solution and I had expected that our discussions would be private.
“We fail to see how media interest can be helpful to either party.”