Government adds extra protection for businesses with 3-month ban on evictions

Retail property

Yesterday evening the Government announced extra protection for businesses, with a three-month ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments due to coronavirus.

The news comes ahead of 25 March – the first rent quarter day of 2020. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are taking unprecedented action and doing so at unprecedented speed, because we know that businesses and their employees need help now.

“That is why we are taking steps to change the law so that no company can be forced out of its premises due to loss of income. Alongside our support for workers and £330bn of business loans and guarantees, this will help make a real difference to firms across the country trying to protect jobs.”

Communities secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, added: “We are protecting both people and their businesses by providing the urgent support they need.

“We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays. However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next three months.”

The retail, leisure and hospitality businesses at the heart of the UK’s high streets are at the sharp end of the unfolding global health pandemic, and property owners are already working with customers who are in temporary distress.

Property owners, however, are similarly facing the impacts of coronavirus on their own businesses and will need further support – in particular to meet their obligations to their lenders.

Melanie Leech, CEO of the British Property Federation, commented: “The commercial property industry is committed to supporting its customers who, through no fault of their own but due to coronavirus, are concerned about how they going to pay their rent.

“The Government has recognised that responsible property owners are already proactively offering flexibility around rent payments, but the announcement of a three-month moratorium on the ability to exercise right of forfeiture in relation to non-payment of rent will offer additional reassurance to hard-pressed businesses.

“Property owners are similarly facing the impacts of coronavirus on their own businesses and will need further support.”