Business evictions ban extended until March but rent debt is growing.
The Government announced in December a further extension to protect commercial property tenants until March 31, 2021 but thousands of businesses are struggling to pay their rent. The extension is intended to give commercial landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.
The Housing Secretary said that this will be the ‘final’ extension of the ban on evictions. However, retail rent debt has reached over £2bn after nine months of government protections against eviction and rent debt enforcement, according Remit Consulting.
Between March 2020 and the end of last year, retail’s debt climbed to £2.2bn, making up more than half commercial tenants’ total debt of £4.2bn.
The British Property Federation also estimates total unpaid rent for UK rent for commercial property from the end of March until December comes to £4.5bn.
British Property Federation CEO Melanie Leech claimed the latest figures, from, showed it was “more important than ever businesses that can afford to pay, but have exploited the moratorium and avoided payment, now pay their debt”
Business owners affected by the pandemic still under protection from eviction until the end of March 2021.
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 as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on 9 December 2020. This allows businesses sufficient breathing space to pay rent owed.
The move will also support businesses worst affected by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants, helping them to rebuild over the winter period. This is in addition to putting in place one of the world’s most comprehensive economic responses to protect jobs, incomes, and business throughout and beyond this pandemic.
The majority of commercial landlords have shown flexibility, understanding and commitment to protect businesses during an exceptionally challenging time.
This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants 3 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Alongside this, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick has also announced a review of the outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions.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.