There will be a sigh of relief for many commercial tenants after confirmation by the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, that there will be a further - and final - stay on evictions due to commercial rent arrears until March 2021.
The initial stay on evictions had already been extended and was due to expire on 31 December 2020. With that deadline fast approaching, and with Lockdown 2.0 leading to almost all of England being subject to Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions, it was inevitable that the stay would be further extended.
This may be good news for many tenants, but landlords will be frustrated by the fact that their options are being limited for a further three months in terms of recovering possession for unpaid rent from tenants. The Government has stated that where businesses can pay any or all of their rent, they should do so, and further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will be published shortly.
The high street has seen a number of big brand casualties as a result of the pandemic, so even if a commercial landlord could take back possession, is that an option that they would want to pursue? In reality, the combined uncertainties of Brexit and Covid-19 will likely make property difficult to re-let, and any landlord will need to consider their options carefully.
Also worth noting:
- The restrictions on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery to recover unpaid rent has also been automatically extended until the end of March 2021.
- The Government will also extend insolvency measures on restricting statutory demands and winding up petitions to the end of March 2021.
- Mr Jenrick announced a review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation to address the fact that it does not reflect the existing conditions. This will be welcome news to both commercial landlords and tenants given that some such legislation is certainly out of touch with the current market. This review will apparently 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”.
If you’re a landlord or a tenant looking for advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.