The moratorium on eviction for commercial property has been extended by the government for another nine months.
Having come into force last year, the moratorium was designed to help protect high streets shops from going out of business during the UK’s three lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But in the time since, reported the Financial Times, rent arrears for these properties have swollen to at least £6bn.
To say landlords were not pleased with the move is an understatement. In a statement emailed widely, Rebecca Campbell, partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, said that it was ‘disappointing for many landlords’ who have not received ‘meaningful government support’.
Campbell added: “The extension of the moratorium fails to address the estimated £8billion of UK commercial rent arrears and has not provided the clear roadmap that landlords and tenants have been urgently seeking to help them plan for a post pandemic recovery. This mountain of debt is not just a ‘landlord versus tenant’ issue; it is a major concern for all stakeholders in the property industry.”
Others were similarly vocal. Heather Powell, partner and head of property at Blick Rothenberg, said: “No other industry has been asked to trade, or support their customers, in a similar way. It is appalling that the Government continues to treat the opportunist businesses who are generating profits to ignore their landlords and refuse to pay the rent due. The government’s announcement means that occupiers of commercial premises – offices, factories, restaurants, cafes and leisure venues cannot be evicted for not paying their rent until after 25 March 2022.”
Powell went on to call for a ‘more-nuanced approach’. She said it needed, ‘[…] an approach that genuinely “strikes the right balance” between protecting landlords and supporting businesses most in need is required if all businesses are going to come out of the pandemic ready to meet the challenges of the next ten years’.
This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.