Sheffield shopping centre tenant slams landlord over rent demands during pandemic

A Sheffield shopping centre tenant has complained about being charged full rent and service charge throughout the pandemic ‘with no leeway whatsoever’.

The shopkeeper at Fox Valley in Stocksbridge said they had been ‘hassled’ for money weeks before it was due and warned interest would be added to late payments.

They were worried rents would go up after at least one business faced an increase.

And they were angry when Mark Dransfield, boss of landlord Dransfield Properties appeared on Channel 4 show ‘Second Hand for 50 Grand’ with daughter Rebecca. She bought a replica Prada handbag to replace one she’d been given by her late mum but had been stolen.

Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge.

The shopkeeper, who asked not to be named, said: “I think they could have been more understanding to all the tenants. There has been no leeway whatsoever, it’s not been fair. They’ve wanted the full amount on time or interest will be added. It’s left us angry. We’re worried rents will increase, it’s happened to others.

“Then to go on television to talk about what he’s spending is a slap in the face.

“Other places have been a lot more understanding. We have hung on and we have managed but it could have been a lot easier.”

Fox Valley has 46 units.

Mark Dransfield celebrates the first birthday of Fox Valley in Stocksbridge.

In March, Next announced plans to terminate its lease early and close, affecting 22 staff. The company did not give a reason.

But the relative of a Next worker, who asked not to be named, claimed it was because Dransfield Properties wanted to increase rent.

He added: “The feeling is a lot more will go. There are a lot of small independents down there that may or may not survive. They’re trying to squeeze more out of people in a pandemic and there’s only so much people can take.”

In April, O’Neill’s barbers relocated to the High Street after two years at Fox Valley, allegedly due to a rent increase. Proprietor Jake O’Neill declined to comment.

In December, Wendy and Alan McGilveray, of McGilveray’s restaurant at Fox Valley, appeared on BBC television to talk about the financial impact of Covid.

Wendy said: “We obviously have all our bills to pay, rent, everything, that doesn’t stop.”

A Dransfield Properties spokeswoman said their relationship with tenants was ‘hugely important to us’ and they had cut rent and service charges for tenants that were not eligible for government grants.

She added: “Businesses which were eligible for grant funding to cover their fixed costs, such as rent and service charge, have been offered help from our estates team in applying for and obtaining those funds.

“We had a dedicated surveyor working full time with retailers and local authorities to ensure our independent businesses received the support they needed to cover their fixed costs.

“We have also worked closely with those businesses not eligible for support, giving extensive concessions including rent and service charge reductions and rent free periods.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on the retail and leisure sector, and we are still assessing that impact, landlords continue to have their own costs and overheads to cover and we have had to restructure our business over the last 12 months in response to this.”

The Next store closure decision was not due to a rent increase, she added.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.