Twitter sued in two countries for not paying rent

Twitter rents more than 460,000 sqft of space on eight floors of the San Francisco building, according to the complaint. PHOTO: NYTIMES

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter has been sued in two countries for not paying rent.

Suits have been filed by the Crown Estate in Britain and by the social media firm’s landlord in San Francisco. 

The Crown Estate – which manages a range of assets from shops and offices to the seabed around England that’s ultimately owned by the British monarch – filed a suit against Twitter over its London premises in the West End, according to court filings. 

No further detail on the lawsuit was available. A spokesman for the Crown Estate didn’t comment beyond confirming the suit. 

Meanwhile, in the US, Twitter quit paying rent on its San Francisco headquarters in December, according to a lawsuit filed by the landlord. 

Mr Elon Musk’s social media company failed to pay the US$3.36 million (S$4.43 million) December rent for its offices at 1355 Market Street and the US$3.42 million for January rent, Sri Nine Market Square LLC, the owner of the building, said in a lawsuit filed Monday in state court in California.

Since taking over Twitter, the billionaire has been slashing costs. He’s fired half the staff, held back rent on the company’s other offices around the world and refused to pay some outstanding bills, such as a jet charter.

Those measures come as Mr Musk is facing his first payment on the US$12.5 billion in debt he took on to acquire Twitter.

The suit also comes with Mr Musk on the witness stand in a securities fraud trial in San Francisco where he is defending his tweet to take Tesla private. He’s set to return on Tuesday to finish his testimony.

Twitter rents more than 460,000 sqft of space on eight floors of the San Francisco building, according to the complaint. Sri Nine Market Square held a letter of credit for US$3.6 million as security, which Twitter was required to increase to US$10 million if there were a transfer in control, which occurred when Musk bought the company in October for US$44 billion.

Twitter argued it didn’t have to boost the line of credit, according to the complaint.

Sri Nine said it drew upon the existing line of credit to cover the December rent of US$3.36 million and a portion of the January rent, leaving the balance of the line of credit at US$1.

Sri Nine is seeking to recover the unpaid rent and a court declaration that Twitter is in breach of the lease for failing to increase the line of credit to US$10 million.

Twitter, which has disbanded its public relations department, didn’t respond to a request for comment. BLOOMBERG

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