Thursday 19 March 2020 1:07 pm

City of London Corporation offers rent relief for tenants

The City of London Corporation has adjusted rent conditions for some of its commercial tenants to provide financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak.

The local authority, a major commercial landlord, is changing rental payments for March to June to monthly billing for directly managed premises instead of quarterly billing.

Read more: Tory MPs attack Treasury’s coronavirus response and call for ‘radical’ measures

In a statement, the Corporation said this would make “rental obligations more manageable for City Corporation tenanats” during the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The changes will only apply to the Corporation’s “smaller business tenants”.

Tom Sleigh, chair of the property investment board at the Corporation said: “By smoothing this financial obligation in the short term, we hope City businesses will be able to overcome this outbreak and continue to be a vital part of the fabric of the Square Mile long into the future.

“We aim to do all we can to assist our businesses, small and large, as they seek to weather the challenges they will face in the coming weeks and months.”

Boris Johnson told people this week to stop going to pubs, theatres and restaurants and to stop socialising in public in a drastic increase in social distancing measures.

This has already sent panic through the hospitality and retail industries, with speculation that many businesses will go bust.

Retailer Laura Ashley, for instance, filed for administration on Tuesday.

In response, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures to help hospitality and retail companies try to deal with the economic impact of Covid-19.

This includes scrapping business rates for a year, provding some cash grants and offering government-backed loans of up to £5m.

A three-month “mortgage holiday” has also been implemented.

However, some have called for the government to go further to ensure that workers and renters are protected.

Tory backbencher, and former business secretary, Greg Clark said in the House of Commons today that businesses “see no choice but to lay off workers now” despite the £330bn of loans Sunak has promised them.

“The loan scheme that the chancellor announced on Tuesday is not enough,” he said. “These businesses have no idea when they would be able to pay back the debts.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Young’s offers rent holiday to tenants

“It provides no reason to keep staff employed, in fact the reverse because the smaller the wage bill the less that would have to be borrowed.”

Clark said the government should use the tax system to start paying workers’ wages directly “if and only if [firms] continue to employ their staff”.

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