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Government extends ban on evicting commercial tenants

Jessica Nangle

December 9, 2020

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that this final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.

The government is clear that where businesses can pay any or all of their rent, they should do so.

Further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will also be published shortly.

Alongside this, Jenrick has also announced a review of the outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions.

This review will consider how to enable better collaboration between commercial landlords and tenants and also how to improve the leasing process to ensure our high streets and town centres thrive as we recover from the pandemic and beyond.

Today’s announcement builds on the extra government support for businesses, including targeted VAT cuts, extension of government-backed loan schemes, grants of up to £3,000 for premises that must close, and £1.1bn for councils to enable them to support businesses in their area.

Overall the government has committed a package of over £280 billion of support for businesses and employees this year and the Chancellor has confirmed an additional £55 billion for next year.

Robert Jenrick MP said: “I am extending protections from the threat of eviction for businesses unable to pay their rent until March 2021, taking the length of these measures to one year.

“This will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and plan for the future.

“This support is for the businesses struggling the most during the pandemic, such as those in hospitality – however, those that are able to pay their rent should do so.

“We are witnessing a profound adjustment in commercial property.

“It is critical that landlords and tenants across the country use the coming months to reach agreements on rent wherever possible and enable viable businesses to continue to operate.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma added: “We have stood by businesses across the country throughout this pandemic, and as we head into the new year we will make sure they continue to have the support they need to keep their finances stable, protect jobs and build back better.

“There is still some uncertainty ahead, but knowing that they won’t be evicted by their landlord will give thousands of business owners some breathing space and the additional confidence they need to plan for their futures.”

The restriction on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover unpaid rent will also automatically extend to the end of March, in line with the moratorium’s expiry date.

The review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation will be launched early next year and will consider a broad range of issues including the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 Part II, different models of rent payment, and the impact of coronavirus on the market.

Mark Steggles, partner in the property litigation team at law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore, said: “This extension was anticipated and will provide further respite for struggling businesses.

“However, there remains a mountain of debt in terms of accrued rent arrears that some businesses will never be able to repay.

“It will be interesting to see how resolving this difficult issue is addressed in the guidance that is still to be published.”


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