The government has extended a ban on evictions of commercial property tenants until the end of March 2021.
The moratorium, which was introduced in March and has been extended twice already, prevents property owners from pursuing tenants for unpaid rent by legal means, or from evicting them. It said this “final extension” to offer protection from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.
The government said the majority of commercial landlords have shown “flexibility, understanding and commitment to protect businesses during an exceptionally challenging time”.
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.
“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 further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants would also be published shortly.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Ministers have rightly highlighted and commended our sector’s commitment to supporting tenants during what has been an incredibly tough year – and we recognise that those hardest hit will need further support through the winter.
“Any tenant who has not already engaged with their property owners, and is truly struggling, should now come to the table and be transparent about what they can afford.”
Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser, tweeted: “Good to see that commercial landlords across the UK are banned from evicting commercial tenants now until 31 March 2021. I’d add to this that with most venues closed for the majority of 2020, after March, landlords should be open to a reasonable repayment plan of arrears.”
Last week, UKHospitality proposed a seven-point plan to solve the rent crisis and avoid a new year “bloodbath” as the countdown to the end of the moratorium begins. UKHospitality said there was still substantial unsettled rent from the covid-19 crisis period within the sector, estimated at about £1.6bn. The trade body said this would increase further with December’s rent quarter payment date looming. It added many landlords have made it clear they intend to use the end of the moratorium to issue winding-up petitions and eviction notices to tenants.