The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

King Charles III’s property empire pursues Twitter over unpaid rent

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)
3 min

LONDON — The Crown Estate, which manages the British monarchy’s vast property portfolio, launched court proceedings against Twitter over unpaid rent at the social media giant’s office space in central London’s West End neighborhood, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The estate declined to say how much rent was allegedly owed but said in the statement that it brought the action after making contact with Twitter. The two businesses are now in discussions, the statement added.

King Charles III, when he became monarch, inherited a huge number of royal-owned U.K. properties that are managed by the Crown Estate, a trust. They include residences, luxurious office space in central London, offshore wind farms and the address publicly listed as Twitter’s headquarters in the United Kingdom.

The collection of properties, worth $19.2 billion, belongs to the monarch for the duration of his reign but is not privately owned by him. Last year, it generated $385 million in revenue.

Twitter auctions office equipment, coffee machines as Musk slims company

The Crown Estate’s rental arrears claim against Twitter was listed at London’s High Court last week, Reuters reported.

Public filings do not show financial records for Twitter for the previous year. They were required to be submitted for the public record in the United Kingdom before Dec. 31. Late submissions could result in automatic penalties.

Twitter, which has laid off the majority of its communications staff, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Elon Musk stands by ‘Funding secured’ tweet in trial testimony

The London claim mirrors reports that U.S. and other international Twitter offices had stopped paying rent. In California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that the landlord of the firm’s San Francisco headquarters is suing it, alleging failure to pay $6.8 million in rent in December and January.

In Singapore, Bloomberg News reported that employees had been ordered to vacate Twitter’s Asia-Pacific headquarters this month and work from home.

Here’s who helped Elon Musk buy Twitter

Twitter has been rocked by turmoil since Elon Musk purchased the company in a $44 billion takeover in October and implemented a whirlwind of changes. “Let the good times roll,” he tweeted when the blockbuster deal was announced.

After his purchase, Musk cut half of Twitter’s 7,500-member staff and welcomed back thousands of banned accounts, including some previously suspended for promoting hate or violence. Many advertisers were driven away, according to a Washington Post analysis of marketing data, further widening the company’s financial hole.

On a Twitter audio chat recently, Musk cited the company’s precarious financial position as a driver of his aggressive job cuts and drastic actions, adding that “we have an emergency fire drill on our hands.”

Earlier this month, Twitter auctioned 631 items of “surplus corporate office assets” — including a leather sling lounge chair, espresso machine, and neon blue sign of its tweeting bird logo — from its San Francisco offices as it grapples with its finances.

Musk’s securities fraud trial begins over Tesla ‘Funding secured’ tweet

Since taking over Twitter, the tech billionaire’s personal wealth has also plummeted. This month, Musk was recognized by Guinness World Records for sustaining the “worst loss of fortune in history” — shedding about $200 billion in net worth over a year.

Hamza Shaban, Faiz Siddiqui and Adela Suliman contributed to this report.