The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) says it will be taking “urgent action” against delinquent tenants – including eviction and legal action – to recover approximately $11.26 million owed in rent.
Chief executive officer Sonja Trotman issued the warning today as she said the statutory agency would be enforcing stricter rent collection measures from May 1.
Those include, but are not limited to, the issuance of notices to quit, eviction, non-provision of maintenance and other services to tenants in arrears.Some of those who owe rent have already vacated the premises.
“Over the next few weeks, the corporation will also seek to recover its properties through legal action and the initiation of lock-downs against those tenants whose accounts have remained in arrears for inordinately long periods, despite every effort extended to collect on receivables,” Trotman told reporters.
The CEO, who was officially appointed in January, said some 23 of the total 181 tenants may be affected by such action in the first instance and another 20 in the second phase.
She said in addition to stricter receivables control, the BIDC was embarking on a number of revenue earning initiatives, one of which would be the sale of “non-performing assets”.
“Among those assets being considered for disposal are Lot 9 in Colleton, St Peter; Lot 1B, Grazettes Industrial Estate; Lots 1, 2, 3 and 6, Pine Industrial Estate; and Lot 16, Six Roads Industrial Estate . . . Other properties will be considered for disposal depending on interest expressed,” announced Trotman.
She said that while the actions of the BIDC in recovering its monies and space were necessary, it was not the BIDC’s intention to shame anyone or signal any lessening of its work to provide services to enhance enterprise capacity.
Trotman said that as a result of the outstanding rent receipts, some of which date back to about ten years, the BIDC’s finances were “under severe strain”.
He said the business development agency was unable to adequately carry out repairs and maintenance to its nine industrial estates.
It costs the agency between $5 million and $8 million each year to carry out maintenance.
Last year the BIDC took a decision not to do “small maintenance” for clients who were heavily indebted to the corporation, Trotman said.
Stating that the demand for operating space “remains high”, the BIDC boss said the action was therefore “necessary at this stage” to allow the BIDC to carry out higher levels of maintenance on its properties.
“Rental payments are critical to the BIDC’s work in facilitating and supporting high potential new business ventures and new sector development. The high level of indebtedness has therefore constrained the corporation in what it can deliver,” said Trotman.
As at February 2015, tenants in the Newton Industrial Estate owed the BIDC over $2.5 million; Harbour Industrial Estate, over $2.2 million; Six Roads Industrial Estate, more than $1.4 million; Pelican Industrial Estate, $1.2 million; Grazettes Industrial Estate, $1.16 million; Spring Garden Industrial Estate, over $1 million; Grantley Adams Industrial Estate, $834,112; Wildey Industrial Estate $558,260; and Pine Industrial Estate, $178,405.
Pleading with tenants to pay their debt, Trotman said the BIDC was extending the option of a payment plan with agreed terms and conditions to those in arrears. She said that after they received the notice, they would have about two weeks in which to respond.
Asked by Barbados TODAY why the BIDC allowed the arrears to escalate, Trotman acknowledged that the corporation had not demanded its rent in the past.
“So once we get back on track in relation to our tenants and payment of rents, we don’t intend this situation to happen again,” Trotman said.