Court orders have restored Hudson’s Bay Co. ULC access to two of its store properties, and require it to pay back some of the rent it owes, after a landlord locked out the retailer over the weekend.
Hudson’s Bay is currently facing a number of lawsuits from landlords over unpaid rent during the pandemic, including from Morguard REIT, which locked the doors on its stores in Centerpoint Mall in Toronto and Coquitlam Centre in Coquitlam, B.C., last weekend.
A judge’s interim order filed in Ontario Superior Court on Monday prevented Morguard subsidiary Revenue Properties Company Ltd. from evicting Hudson’s Bay and ordered the landlord to restore the retailer’s access to the Toronto store. Hudson’s Bay confirmed that it also reopened the Coquitlam store on Wednesday, after another court order in British Columbia on Tuesday.
Canada’s oldest retailer has withheld rent at more than 20 locations across the country, according to court documents and landlords – some of them seeking to evict the retailer.
HBC has said repeatedly that it believes landlords and retailers should share the burden of the pandemic, which has severely affected store traffic and sales. The retailer has also taken the unusual step of suing some landlords, claiming that they have not done enough to upgrade their properties and to convince shoppers that they are safe.
Under the Ontario order, HBC must pay $277,454 by Friday, representing 50 per cent of the unpaid rent owing on the Centerpoint location from April to November. The order also specified that HBC must continue to pay 50 per cent of the rent on the first of each month until the dispute is resolved.
Another interim order issued earlier this month in a dispute between HBC and Oxford Properties also prevented an eviction and ordered the retailer to pay 50 per cent of the rent owing – more than $600,000 – on a store in Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, Ont.
As in that case, this week’s order noted that it does not prevent the landlord from arguing that the entirety of the back payments is still due, nor does it prevent HBC from arguing that it should have to pay less, or no rent at all. The case is continuing.
With a report from Rachelle Younglai