What Are You Doing About Leases and Payment Plans?

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As things continue to develop, the unemployment rate will likely increase, making it difficult for people to pay critical bills like mortgage payments. While domain name lease payments and domain name payment plans are probably not considered “critical bills,” I think people will find deal partners asking to restructure payment plans or asking to put them on hold. People may also opt to forego lease payments or payment plan payments. I am interested in knowing how domain investors will respond.

The way I see it, domain investors who have ongoing leases or payment plans will have three options if the counter party can not pay on time or asks for some sort of lease forgiveness:

  • End the lease and repossess the domain name.
  • Give the other party additional time to make expected payments (extend default period)
  • Change the lease or payment plan terms.

Everyone has a different approach to how they might handle a situation like this, and there are many different factors at play. For instance, on a deal where the investor and the counter party has some sort of relationship, there might be more willingness to extend terms or give the other party some leeway. On deals done on a platform like Dan.com where there was little to no interaction between parties, deals might simply be allowed to expire.

Domain investors have their own bills to pay, so allowing deals to expire could be helpful if the domain name could be sold or leased to another party. On the flip side, being generous and giving the other party more time to pay might build some goodwill and ensure the payments continue to be made in the future. I would imagine people have different philosophies about this depending on their own individual circumstances.

It would be great to get a sense of how domain investors intend to handle lease payments or payment plans if the counter party indicates difficulty paying. What is your approach to this going to be and how will you manage? Separately, I think it would be interesting to hear about whether others are seeing more defaults or payment change requests.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Does Dan.com have a force majeure clause in the lease agreement?

    Is it going to be applied? If yes, is it going to be applied globally or on the basis of the buyer’s country situation?

    If they don’t have it, what if their buyers request that – payments cease without losing the contract? After their move with the “corona” names they have an image to maintain…

    If they don’t have it, and if they get such buyer’s request and decide to grant that – what if the seller is going to be in disagreement?

  2. I have one buyer at DAN who hasn’t paid their monthly installment due a week ago. It is a very low $xxx amount, and they have been loyally paying for over a year. So I wouldn’t mind giving them extra time to pay if DAN is also okay with that.

  3. The number of “pay over time” domains we have running is minimal, with a few on the “perpetual rent” model.

    Most lessees are great, but there are always “characters”, in the case of 1 individual, after 2nd of 12 payments, tried to scam the registrar into handing over the domain to them – I gained some interesting insight into domain theft scams on that one – claims of missing business partners, photoshop’d bank statements + faked invoices, calls pretending to be staff at the real registrant …

    When someone stops paying / vanishes / scams the question is always what to do with the name

    It’s rare enough we’ve been able to always put them name through a “quarantine hold” period before returning to stock (during which it does’t resolve, isn’t listed for sale, and is only available to the original client)
    – the idea is to minimise any abuse or contamination caused by the previous user

    For the handful of affected domains over the years, that has been at least 12 months “offline” before going up for sale again

    Which is fine when it’s a $xxxx transaction, but larger value domains can be a problem

    Has Corona impacted lease-out deals for us ?

    1 wanting out, which based on their industry isn’t unexpected, we are still hoping to agree some sort of plan

    1 has a few months left to pay and is not replying to communications at all, it’s already past the point we should pull the plug

    Only 1 has asked to pay late (although they were already a few weeks late at that point) – we’ve agreed to shuffle the payment schedule about, extend the completion by 3 months, the next 4 being half-size payments, but stressed this is one-time only adjustment

    All others seem to still be paying fine, but these are small monthly amounts, and mostly deals done to ease their cashflow rather than waiting for SMEs to get a loan/overdraft for $xx,xxx to spend on domains
    – 2k upfront and 1k/month for 2 years makes a 25k domain more affordable. πŸ™‚

    On a positive note, March has had much more interest in the brandables than Jan & Feb combined

      • What does that have to do with anything?

        That’s expensive, adds layers of additional work (or cost to outsource) and for what gain?

        Almost all of my leases, payment plans, and other such deals were conducted with an escrow agent. When deals ended – either successfully or in a default – the domain name was sent to the buyer or to me depending on the situation. Having my own registrar would have added zero value, especially because a savvy counterparty would want an independent neutral party to control the domain name.

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