The government has extended its ban on commercial property evictions for a further three months, to the dismay of landlords who say some tenants “can pay, but won’t pay” their rents.
Robert Jenrick MP, the housing minister, this afternoon confirmed that the block on evictions will continue until 30 June, compared to the previous cut off date of 31 March.
The government said the decision will help “those worst affected by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants, get back to business” when hospitality fully reopens from 17 May.
Kwasi Kwarteng MP, the business secretary, added that the moratorium will give firms “breathing space”.
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure businesses get the support they need to get through this pandemic and reopen when it is safe to do so,” he said.
However commercial landlords have slammed the decision, saying “well-capitalised businesses, who can but won’t pay rent, have raided our nation’s pensions and savings invested in commercial property – this scandal must stop”.
“With further rates relief and new grants, and a clear plan for re-opening, high streets businesses should be confident in approaching their property owners to forge an economic partnership in which they can agree how to manage rental debt fairly,” said Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation.
“Rational property owners want their tenants to thrive – empty properties generate no income and are a blight on our high streets.”
Landlords have struggled to collect retail and hospitality sector rents during the pandemic, as pubs, bars and restaurants have seen revenue plummet during periods of closure in lockdown.
They have also been confronted with a slew of company voluntary arrangements (CVA), which are used by firms to renegotiate rents or close loss-making stores.
Landlords of hairdressing chain Regis UK, which owns Supercuts, were in court this week to appeal the CVA that was passed in 2018. Meanwhile, New Look is facing a legal challenge from the owners of its stores later this month.