The government has announced an extension to the rent moratorium for an additional nine months to March 2022. The move will prevent landlords from evicting tenants for failing to pay rent for the remainder of 2021 and will assist retailers and hospitality businesses who have incurred debts through lockdown.
The government plans to introduce legislation that will help tenants and landlords work together to form an agreement on any money owed, whether that is waiving some of the total amount or agreeing to repayment plans. The agreement is to be between the tenant and landlord but if an agreement can’t be made, the law will ensure a binding arbitration process will be put in place where a legally binding agreement will be made that both parties must adhere to.
To ensure landlords are protected, the government has made it clear that businesses that are able to pay rent, must do so. As soon as restrictions change and businesses are allowed to reopen, tenants should start paying their rent.
Responding to the announcement, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said, “This is a very welcome announcement, addressing an issue of vital importance in the nick of time. We will be looking closely at the details, but welcome the continued support provided by Government to businesses.”
Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said, “It is obvious that retailers with rent debt incurred during the closure periods need further protection and more time as they look to re-build their businesses. Whilst the extension is good news, we still await some important details to fully brief our members. We are keen to ensure that there are no loopholes for landlords to exploit. Finally, our message to retailers is that it is vital that rent is paid if you are trading. Any debt incurred whilst open will not be protected so it is impotent for retailers and landlords to sit down and find a practical solution to addressing the debt.”