Landlords disappointed as the government extends eviction protection for businesses
The government has extended a moratorium on business evictions, helping tenants until the end of 2020.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We are extending support to protect those businesses that are unable to pay their rent from eviction to the end of the year. This will stop businesses going under and protect jobs over the coming months.”
The Government said it is clear that where businesses can pay their rent, they should do so, as this support is aimed at businesses struggling the most during the pandemic.
The update comes a day after the Financial Times reported an extension was being considered. Retail property landlords yesterday told the Evening Standard they were unhappy at the potential move.
The moratorium on business evictions was introduced in April to help firms recover from the virus crisis, and had been due to end on September 30.
While some tenants agreed six-month rent holidays with landlords, many had not and were worried they would not be able to pay the outstanding rent, after suffering three months of closure in lockdown.
But landlords claim some of the tenants refusing to pay are big, profitable companies wrongly taking advantage of the crisis.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, today said: “It is hugely disappointing that the Government has decided on a blanket extension to the moratorium, when the majority of property owners and tenants are working collaboratively together, and well-capitalised businesses continue to exploit the intervention, refusing to pay rent despite being able to afford it.”
Leech added: “It is imperative, for the health of the pensions and savings funds that own our high street, that the Government confirms this is the last extension and sets out an exit strategy to clearly outline to both property owners and tenants how we are going to transition back to normal market conditions and overcome what is a growing and for some an insurmountable challenge of rent arrears.”
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Extending the temporary measures we put in place earlier this year to protect businesses from the threat of eviction will give them some much-needed breathing space at a critical moment in the UK’s economic recovery.”
High Street chains have had some respite from the lockdown’s impact on revenues since non-essential stores have been allowed to reopen, while the Eat Out to Help Out scheme helped restaurants.
But many companies are still battling lower footfall in city centres as tourists and office workers stay away.