This may be a Hail Mary....
We are Bon Velo, your local, family run bike shop on Half Moon Lane. We have been trading since October 2010 and have built up a lovely customer base since then. We love Herne Hill and are local residents ourselves. HH forum have suggested that we post this article to publicise our predicament.
We had just started to recover from the devastating flood from August 2013 when we received a phone call from our landlord regarding our rent. As with many local businesses in Herne Hill and all over London, our shop is now being threatened by an extortionate rent increase. We thought he was joking when our landlord’s agent called in June 2015 to tell us of his intention to raise our rent by up to 80%. After trying to reason with him, he told us if we couldn’t pay, he could find someone who could which basically tells us that he doesn’t care about our livelihood or the local community.
It was suggested to us that we try writing to John Major, who is head of the Dulwich Estate hoping that they would have some leverage in rental matters. His response was that there was nothing he could do.
Still convinced that our landlord could not get away with such an increase as he has treated us very poorly over the last five years, we appointed a surveyor. He then told us there was not much he could do as the market value had now been redefined by the letting of number 21 Half Moon Lane. This has also now been endorsed by a rent review at number 24, the letting of number 22 and now the rent increase of number 18 (Just Williams). That means that because one landlord managed to find someone to pay his extortionate rent (whether the business is profitable or not), the whole of Half Moon Lane will now be raised to this level.
We are understandably very worried for Bon Velo as our landlord is now pressing for settlement of our rent review. We hope this will end well and we can keep trading in Herne Hill.
We are also very worried for the rest of Herne Hill as this will just keep happening as rent reviews come up, other landlords will follow suit and all the lovely little independent shops will disappear as these rents cannot be covered unless you either have a huge footfall or larger profit margins like those of chains or estate agents. We know some of the shop owners along Half Moon Lane own their shops and there may be an odd decent landlord along our side of the parade so they should be fine. As for the rest of us, the properties are owned by Dulwich Estate, greedy landlords and Network Rail. Can they really be allowed to ruin so many independent businesses and form the neighbourhood as they please?
Something needs to happen to the way leases are written to prevent landlords from having all the rights and say, surely a cap on the percentage of rent increase allowed would be a good start?
We hope for the best for ourselves and the rest of Herne Hill.
Thank you for taking time to read this post.