Eviction moratorium extended until March 2021

Hospitality businesses affected by the pandemic are now protected from eviction until the end of March 2021, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

Hospitality businesses affected by the pandemic are now protected from eviction until the end of March 2021, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.

This final extension of the rent moratorium to protect operators from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.

Jenrick has also announced a review of the outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions.

“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,” says Jenrick. “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.

Additional guidance published early next year will sit alongside the government’s Code of Practice, published in June, to encourage all parties to work together to protect viable businesses and ensure a swift economic recovery.

The government will also extend insolvency measures on restricting statutory demands and winding up petitions until the end of March.

The restriction on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover unpaid rent will also automatically extend to the end of March, in line with the moratorium’s expiry date.

Extension welcomed, but financial support still necessary

Trade body UKHospitality has welcomed the announcement, but warns the risk of a “calamity of evictions on 1 April” remains without financial support.

“This is a very welcome respite and it will be crucial in ensuring that more businesses do not fall off an immediate cliff edge,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“Hospitality businesses that have been hammered all year long were staring down the barrel of mass failures and job losses without this.

“If it is to be the final extension to the moratoria, then it is absolutely crucial that it is followed swiftly by a cohesive and comprehensive package of recovery measures from the government. The focus now needs to turn to helping businesses begin to get back towards full strength and trade their way out of danger.

“An extension to the business rates holiday and VAT cut are a must, alongside loans to tenants where landlords have provided rent concessions.

“The government must facilitate a resolution to the problem of rent debt which has built up over a devastating year. The forthcoming enhancements to the Code of Practice must bring landlords to the table to find a solution. They cannot be allowed to simply wait until April in order to evict and wind-up businesses.

“The review of Commercial Property legislation, due to begin in the New Year, must also be delivered at pace. We have been calling for this for a long time and it needs to happen sooner rather than later if we hope to see more businesses benefit from it.”