Last week (16 June), the UK government announced a further extension of moratoriums on commercial property owners’ rights until March 2022.
Legislation is set to be introduced later this session in parliament in order to manage any outstanding rent debt from businesses that have been closed during the pandemic.
The government’s move was welcomed by the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) for the assistance it will offer retailers up and down the country.
“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.”
He added: “At the end of the extended period, there will be binding arbitration to resolve any outstanding disputes – another Bira request.”
However, Melanie Leech, the chief executive of BPF, said that the government has “failed to recognise” that commercial property owners are also “essential to the health of our town centres – to creating economic growth, jobs and opportunity”.
She said: “The majority of property owners have already reached agreement with their tenants on rent, and millions of pounds have been provided to the most vulnerable tenants in the sectors most impacted by Covid-19. That support will continue in light of the delay in the recovery roadmap for those businesses that need it.”
“The property industry itself proposed this idea of ringfencing rent arrears for the most vulnerable tenants hardest hit by Covid-19 – to provide more time for these tenants and their property owners to reach agreement, where they have not already done so, on rent debt built up during the pandemic.”
She added: “Most businesses are now open and trading and the legislation required to focus protection on the most vulnerable and to create a clear exit path to deal with rent arrears should have been put in place for the end of this month when the moratoriums are due to expire.”