Westfield London’s parent has won a High court ruling which means its commercial tenant The Fragrance Shop must pay £166,884 in unpaid rent and service charges despite being forced to close the store three times due to the pandemic.
Westfield London, which is a major shopping centre in West London’s Shepherd’s Bush, is owned by German-based Commerz Real Investmentgesellcharft mbH.
TFS Stores, which trades as The Fragrance Shop, didn’t pay the rent and service charges while its store was closed, in April, May and June 2020. The claim was issued on 3rd December 2020.
The Fragrance Shop was forced to close the business three times: Between 26th March and 15th June 2020, from 5th November 2020 to 2nd December 2020, and from the 19th December 2020 to 12th April 2021.
The result is likely to shock some retail tenants, some of which have fallen into arrears due to the lost income caused by the pandemic.
However Kim Clifford, lawyer at law firm Ashurst, said the move “will be welcomed by landlords”.
She added: “The High court awards summary judgment in favour of the landlord and holds that such arrears claims do not circumvent the Code of Practice nor government measures, there was no implied term within the rent cesser provisions that rent can be withheld where premises are closed due to a legal requirement and that as the rent cesser provisions didn’t bite there was no loss of rent claim under the landlord’s insurance policy, which they were in any event not obliged to have in place in respect of loss of rent resulting from notifiable disease or government action.”
The Fragrance Shop signed a five-lease lease at Westfield London in July 2019 with a yearly rent of £200,000.