Amid collapse, Hong Kong retailers urge restrictions on landlord action

hong kong retailers urge restriction

Hong Kong’s top retailer association requested the local government to safeguard tenants from legal action or eviction for a minimum of nine months even though they are not able to pay rent over protests and virus restrictions.

Retailers in the financial hub have been battered by months of anti-government unrest that escalated in June last year, and the outbreak of coronavirus has sent many to the brink of collapse.

“The retail industry is facing a critical moment of life and death,” Annie Yau Tse, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA), said in an open letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.“If operating conditions do not improve, an estimated 15,000 retail stores will close down by the end of the year.”

Hong Kong’s retailers have put all the efforts to lessen the rent temporarily. Leases typically require tenants to pay a minimum, fixed base rent or a percentage of store sales, known as turnover rent - whichever is higher.

“The association believes if the problem of high rent cannot be resolved in a timely manner, even if the government provides subsidies from anti-epidemic funds and related programs, large-scale closure and redundancies will be inevitable,” HKRMA said.