Governments should overhaul REIT distribution rules to allow them to more easily conserve cash in the next financial crisis. That is one recommendation stemming from the Ernst & Young report "Global REIT Report 2010: Against All Odds." One reason U.K. and Australian REITs performed poorly during the crisis is because they have very strict rules on dividends, the report says. Those countries "have moved furthest from the traditional 'passive' REIT model -- where REITs purchase existing properties and capture revenue by managing those properties," says Robert Lehman, head of E&Y's REIT practice.

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