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A lifeline for many commercial property tenants

28.12.20

The government has extended a ban on evictions of commercial property tenants until the end of March 2021, in a move that will be welcomed by struggling restaurant owners and retailers. A freeze on business evictions was introduced earlier this year to help companies during the pandemic, and had been due to end on September 30. It was then extended until the end of 2020, and will now run until March 2021. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “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.”He added: “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.”
The government said the majority of commercial landlords have shown “flexibility, understanding and commitment to protect businesses during an exceptionally challenging time”.  It added 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. Further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will be published shortly.  While some tenants agreed rent holidays and deferrals with landlords this year, many had not and were worried they would not be able to pay the outstanding rent once the freeze ended. But landlords claim some occupiers refusing to pay rent are big, profitable companies wrongly taking advantage of the crisis.

Research in September estimated total rent unpaid for UK commercial property between late March and the end of December, will be around £4.5 billion.

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