UK Government extends the ban on evicting commercial tenants until the end of March 2021

Commercial Tenants Protected Until March

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has today announced that UK businesses, affected by the coronavirus pandemic, will be granted additional support in the form of an extension to the eviction ban until the end of March 2021.

The Government reports that commercial landlords have been overwhelmingly flexible and understanding during the last nine months, and hopes that this ‘final’ three month extension will give tenants and landlords the space and time to talk about unpaid rents and how to settle the arrears.

Landlords have been overwhelmingly flexible and understanding, and that’s in both the commercial and the residential sectors, but they’ve also had their hands tied behind their backs for large periods of time, unable to do anything apart from stand back and watch their investments teeter on the brink of uncertainty.

Everyone would agree that the best possible outcome is for the tenants to weather the storm, bounce back stronger, and settle their arrears, but landlords are understandably concerned that another extension on evictions just prolongs the inevitable, and allows the unpaid rent arrears to build up further, a bit like a never ending game of Tetris.

A game of Tetris with no apparent way to make the blocks start to fall…

If you want to know what was said from the men making the decisions, we have it here for you:

Secretary of State for Housing Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“I am extending protections from the threat of eviction for businesses unable to pay their rent until March 2021, taking the length of these measures to one year. This will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and plan for the future.

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.”

Whilst Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“We have stood by businesses across the country throughout this pandemic, and as we head into the New Year we will make sure they continue to have the support they need to keep their finances stable, protect jobs and build back better.

There is still some uncertainty ahead, but knowing that they won’t be evicted by their landlord will give thousands of business owners some breathing space and the additional confidence they need to plan for their futures.”

Further guidance is due to be released, with a view to supporting tenants and landlords through the negotiation stages of settling arrears, but what that will look like remains to be seen.

We know that it’s been one hell of a year for everyone, and we applaud the fact that many businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, will benefit from this extension and be able to bounce back stronger in the New Year.

That said, we’re also more than a little bit concerned about the extra patience, flexibility and ‘understanding’ that is being expected of commercial landlords, many of whom are owed months upon months of unpaid rent.

Let’s just hope that everyone, landlords included, are taken into consideration when the guidance and advice for negotiating unpaid rent is released.


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