‘Under threat’ Chinatown stands up for tenants

‘Under threat’ Chinatown stands up for West End tenants’ fairness

West End (Chinatown) Tenants’ Association launched to protect central London ‘independents’ from opportunistic rent hikes

A campaign has been launched to fight for fair commercial property rental increases within London’s West End, led by independent business owners from Chinatown, currently under significant threat of closure due to exponential rent increases.

Jon Man, who has operated in Chinatown for the last 34 years and proprietor of HK Diner on Wardour Street, has, with other colleagues, launched the West End (Chinatown) Tenants’ Association, which will aim to provide transparency and fairness between landlords, their agents and the many independent restaurants and shops, making up the soul of Central London.

The Association will:

Encourage operators to share rental and lease information, for the first time ever.

Through a ‘Zoopla-style’ open-book database of rental evidence, enable fair rent levels to be negotiated for upcoming lease renewals and rent reviews for independent businesses.

Raise awareness among tenants so it is possible to have their interests represented, while educating them about the conflict of interests which exists in commercial property – whereby agents / surveyors predominantly represent landlords, therefore are not able to give impartial advice while acting for tenants.

Endeavour to preserve the vibrant and character-filled nature of London’s bustling West End by safeguarding independent retail and leisure SMEs.

Jon Man, commented: “While Chinatown has been particularly hard hit, with restaurants forced to close, others downgraded to low cost buffets and many have cut staff, we realise the issue is affecting independent businesses dotted all around the West End. So we will stand up for all of them, to create a level playing field with landlords, which will result in protecting the identity and character of the internationally renowned West End.”

Philip Sandzer, head of retail and leisure at DeVono Property, which pioneered representing tenants-only, more than a decade ago, and advises the West End (Chinatown) Tenants’ Association, commented: “It will take time but we believe we can achieve fair rental increases by sharing information among occupiers. At the moment, rents are often shrouded in secrecy, with some tenants agreeing to unduly high rents, which set precedents for all the others, thereby placing many independent businesses in jeopardy. We believe we can change things by creating a fair situation through better transparency. We have had an encouraging start on the first rent reviews we have negotiated for the Association members and are confident that over the five year rent review cycle, we will save our clients hundreds of thousands of pounds from distorted evidence and in some cases underhand tactics of landlords hiking rents beyond sustainable levels.”

The West End (Chinatown) Tenants’ Association, led by Man and colleagues will represent a multitude of retail and leisure businesses spanning Soho, Chinatown to Covent Garden, all under threat of unduly high rent increases.

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