Coronavirus ‘a looming rent apocalypse’ says real estate entrepreneur

The coronavirus pandemic is ‘a looming rent apocalypse’ for small tenants, says the co-founder of co-working business Second Home.

Rohan Silva said this week that the pandemic ‘is going to be really tough for us to get through.’

The entrepreneur told the UK’s BBC Today programme that landlords were deferring rents but that would lead to problems in a few months time, because ‘rents keep piling up.’

Second Home has co-working spaces in four London locations - Clerkenwell, Spitalfields, Notting Hill and London Fields - which are closed except for critical and essential working. Its two other sites in Lisbon and Los Angeles are currently closed due to the virus.

All feature extras such as bookshops and bars as well as gardens and event spaces, but these cannot trade either.

Mark Dixon, the CEO of IWG, the world’s largest flexible office provider, told the programme that coronavirus is ‘a hundred-year storm’ that nobody could plan for. ‘We are very focused on getting through it and getting to the other side without taking unnecessary risks’ he said.

‘Offices will not be the same again’, Dixon believed. The crisis had ‘accelerated the take up of technology and many have discovered for the first time that people can work effectively from home.’

However, he added that a lot of people do not want to work at home even though they can. The future will see a combination of more decentralised working, some people working from home and others in the office: ‘Lots of people are working on this now.’


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