The government has announced that an eviction ban within the commercial property sector will remain in place until March 25th 2022.
Thousands of businesses are currently in significant amounts of rental arrears and could have been facing evictions in the coming weeks or months if the ban had not been extended.
Representatives of businesses in various sectors, including the hospitality and night time industries, have been highlighting the extent to which commercial rent-related debts have been stacking up over the course of the pandemic.
The ban on evictions has largely protected businesses from being kicked out of their premises during the Covid crisis but it remains unclear how rental arrangements and debts will be resolved once the economy is completely reopened.
Government ministers have explained that they expect to see commercial rents accrued during the crisis “ringfenced” and repayments plans agreed between landlords and tenants in due course.
To that end, it is hoped that the extension of the ban on evictions from July 1st 2021 to March 2022 will provide scope for businesses to establish realistic financial plans for the coming months and potentially to agree workable debt repayment plans with their landlords.
The government has said it expects commercial property owners to “make allowances for the ringfenced rent arrears from these specific periods of closure due to the pandemic, and share the financial impact with their tenants”.
To encourage deals between landlords and commercial tenants, the government has said it will underpin in law an arbitration process that helps to resolve the details of cases in which substantial amounts of rent are owed by tenants who were prevented from operating normally because of the pandemic.
“Extending the ban on commercial evictions is a necessary measure to help businesses through the final stages of the pandemic,” said business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
“The new arbitration process will be underpinned by law, providing commercial tenants and landlords with peace of mind that Covid-related rent debts will be settled fairly, and with finality.
“In the meantime, I encourage landlords and tenants to keep working together to reach mutually beneficial agreements.”