The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced on 10 March 2021 that the current restrictions placed on commercial landlords hoping to seek possession of their premises will be extended for a further three months. This means that a commercial landlord will not be able to seek possession of their premises on the basis of a tenants’ rent arrears until 30 June 2021.
This is despite an earlier announcement that the previous extension on this matter would be the “final” extension. It appears that the Government is trying to “help those worst affected by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants, get back to business in May when doors fully reopen for hospitality no earlier than 17 May
The Government has also announced that two significant restrictions on residential landlords will remain in place until 31 May 2021:
- A ban on evictions enforced by bailiffs, except for the most serious circumstances – such as incidents of fraud or domestic abuse; and
- A landlord must, in most cases, provide 6-month notice periods to tenants before they seek a possession order.
On both of these extensions, Mr Jenrick said:
“It is right that as we move through the roadmap, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.
“We have taken unprecedented action to support both commercial and residential tenants throughout the pandemic – with a £280 billion economic package to keep businesses running and people in jobs and able to meet their outgoings, such as rent.”
Whilst the above is certainly not the news that landlords will have hoped for, it can hardly have come as a surprise.
As before, the Government is urging commercial landlords and tenants to agree between themselves arrangements for paying or writing off rental debts by 30 June. This is supported by the code of conduct published last year that sought to encourage commercial tenants and landlords to work together to protect viable businesses.
The Government has also reiterated its intention to review landlord and tenant legislation relating to the commercial property sector later this year to consider a broad range of matters including Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (security of tenure), different models of rent payment and an analysis of the impact of coronavirus on the market.
Watch this space – there is so much more to come!