Unibail-Rodamco sues Express over $30M in missed rent

Mall operator says lease agreements at 27 locations cover “acts of God”

National /
Oct.October 15, 2020 04:24 PM
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Christophe Cuvillier and Express CEO Timothy Baxter (Getty)

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO Christophe Cuvillier and Express CEO Timothy Baxter (Getty)

Act of God? Mall operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield said its lease agreements with Express cover such events, and still require the retailer to pay the rent.

Now Unibail is suing Express, saying the retailer owes $30 million in skipped rent across 27 locations throughout the U.S. Fourteen of those stores are in malls in California, according to the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Many struggling retailers have argued the pandemic allows for missed rent under force majeure clauses included in many leases.

But Unibail says its leases with Express specify that even in “acts of God” cases, “governmental laws,” or other similar instances beyond reasonable control, rent is still due, according to the lawsuit.

Express did not pay rent at the 27 stores in April, May and June, according to the lawsuit. In some locations, it hasn’t made payments for September or October, either. Unibail sent the retailer notice of defaults in April.

Unibail declined to comment on ongoing litigation. Express did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to California, the stores are located in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington state.

In some areas of California — where Unibail is the largest retail center operator — indoor malls were only recently cleared for reopening. The company has been aggressively pushing for its properties to reopen, and filed a lawsuit in late September against Los Angeles County, which had kept indoor malls closed because of coronavirus restrictions. Days later, the county said it would reopen malls.





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