Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 2 June 2020

ENBD Reit rolls out rent relief package for tenants across its portfolio

Support will be offered on case-by-case basis, depending on the financial situation of tenants

ENBD Reit’s is rolling our a rent relief initiative across its portfolio to help reduce financial burden of tenants. Courtesy of ENBD
ENBD Reit’s is rolling our a rent relief initiative across its portfolio to help reduce financial burden of tenants. Courtesy of ENBD

ENBD Reit, the Sharia-compliant real estate investment trust managed by Emirates NBD Asset Management, announced a rent relief initiative across its portfolio of properties for tenants severely affected by the coronavirus-inflicted economic slowdown.

The move is aimed at reducing the financial burden of tenants through rent-free periods, the postponement of cheques or rescheduling rental payment plans, ENBD Reit said in a statement on Wednesday. Rent relief will be offered on case-by-case basis, depending on the financial situation of tenants.

“Our priority right now is identifying those in genuine need of financial assistance to weather the sustained impact of Covid-19 across businesses in Dubai,” Anthony Taylor, head of real estate at Emirates NBD Asset Management, said.

“While we are in a strong financial position having met our objectives to build resilience into the portfolio, we are not in a position to offer blanket relief to all tenants.”

If the Reit decides to “share the cost savings it has achieved with all tenants equally”, rents will be go down by a small percentage, “immaterial to any one tenant facing significant financial challenges”, Mr Taylor said.

“For this reason, we assess the financial position of each tenant who is requesting relief before agreeing to a rental payment structure that meets their requirements.”

Dubai's real estate market has slowed in the wake of a drop in oil prices that began in 2014, as well as ongoing concerns about an oversupply of properties. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the woes of the sector as tenants – leasing both commercial and residential units – are struggling to pay rents. The UAE has graduallystarted reopening its economy and commercial activity is now picking up momentum.

Dubai's property market is expected to bounce back strongly in 2021 on the back of increased economic activity related to Expo 2020, Damac chairman Hussain Sajwani said late last month.

ENBD Reit said it is currently in the process of rolling out flexible solutions for occupants and the management expect to sustain and encourage longer lease agreements in the medium- to long-term.

The investment trust remains in a healthy financial position with positive rental income and sufficient cash to meet all foreseeable obligations, on the back of earlier steps to lower overheads. It is also looking to take advantage of the lower interest rate environment to fix future financing agreements at the lowest possible costs, enabling it to support tenants throughout this challenging period, it said.

The Reit’s management has also negotiated down a number of service contracts to mitigate the impact of sustained softening in the real estate market, it said.

“No sector in the region is unaffected by the pandemic,” Mr Taylor said. “Our intention is to build long-term relationships with our tenants, rather than see them vacate our assets in the case of business closure, because in current market conditions occupancy and rental income are a top priority.”

ENBD Reit also recently announced plans to reposition its portfolio to include a higher weighting of "alternative" assets in sectors such as logistics and healthcare.

Updated: May 20, 2020 01:03 PM

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