Call for Evidence: Commercial Rents & COVID-19

A new government consultation has been launched to discover the impact of the moratorium on commercial evictions during the pandemic. As the lockdown eases and the economy re-opens, the measures preventing evictions will need to be withdrawn or replaced; the government requires information to make sure that tenant businesses and the jobs that go with them are preserved.

The call for evidence by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governement (MHCLG) wants to understand how landlords and tenants are responding to the build-up of rent arrears that have arisen through the pandemic. This will inform a better understanding of the risk to economic recovery posed by remaining rent debts. How will landlords and tenants adjust existing lease terms to reflect the period of recovery that many tenant businesses will need once the trading restrictions are lifted?

The measures which are the subject of this call for evidence are:

  • the moratorium on commercial lease evictions established by section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020; and
  • the restrictions on the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) established by the the Taking Control of Goods (Amendment)(Coronavirus) Regulations 2021.

The Chamber will be responding to the consultation and want to hear from you. Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord your experience and needs for the future can help shape our response and that of the British Chambers of Commerce.

If you have any responses to the below please get in touch:

  • If you’re a landlord, what is the situation regarding rent arrears caused by the current situation and existing measures?
  • Whether a landlord or tenant, have you started negotiations on how to deal with any arrears once the economy re-opens? 
  • What have the outcomes of negotiations been so far? Have rents been reduced? How long has been agreed to pay back arrears?
  • What are your thoughts on existing measures?
  • How large a concern is the recovery or payment of arrears to the future of your business?

Also, what are your thoughts on the government’s proposed options:

  • Option 1 – allow these measures to expire on 30 June 2021;
  • Option 2 – Allow the moratorium on commercial lease forfeiture to lapse on 30 June 2021 but retain the insolvency measures and additional rent arrears amendments to CRAR for a period of time;
  • Option 3 – Target existing measures to businesses based on the impact that COVID restrictions have had on their businesses for a limited period of time;
  • Option 4 – Encourage increased formal mediation between landlords and tenants;
  • Option 5 – Non-binding adjudication between landlords and tenants; and
  • Option 6 – Binding non-judicial adjudication between landlords and tenants.

You can respond by emailing geoffm@lancschamber.co.uk  or calling 01772 706582. All responses will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

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