uncertain and challenging times.
The Government announced on 23 March that there will be relief from forfeiture for tenants who do not pay their rent in the 3 next months – see here for full details.
This means that no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a rent payment in the next 3 months.
What the Government has said:
Robert Jenrick Housing Minister has stated :
“We are protecting both people and their businesses by providing the urgent support they need.”
“We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays.”
“However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next 3 months.”
What does this mean for Landlords?
This takes away a recourse a commercial Landlord has for non-payment of rent. However, it is important for tenants to realise that rent is still due and payable; the Government has not announced a rent moratorium.
The period of relief is 3 months from the time the rent is due only, and the rent remains payable.
What can Landlords do?
Commercial landlords should be proactive and be in contact with their tenants to find a way through the next few months. It is open for the parties to agree a way forward which may include:
- deferment of rent (and service charge) payments;
- temporary reduction in the amount of rent payable; or
- a rent free period (this may well be appropriate for businesses which trade from a shop, as an example, where the cash available to pay rent is dependent on trading).
If a tenant is not engaging with the Landlord during this period, having not paid any rent, then there are still remedies available to landlords. The most common that may be used is serving a statutory demand on the tenant, giving a set period of time to pay, effectively formal notice of the debt. Once the set period of time has expired the landlord can issue winding up proceedings (if the tenant is a company). For obvious reasons, this may not be the best option, particularly where the landlord wants to continue letting the property to the same tenant after business returns to a semblance of normality. There may also be a period of time after the “lockdown” period where letting a vacant unit, shop or office premises may be exceedingly difficult !
Essentially, the message is for both landlords and tenants to be pragmatic and discuss sharing the pain involved in missed rent payments if both parties wish to work together in the future.
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David Gwynne, Director Abbeygate Developments Limited
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The Commercial Property Team
Richard Willis Consultant Solicitor
Commercial Property 01908 689315Richard specialises in Property Law, representing clients from small family businesses to large PLC’s’ He also acts for local Councils, Parish Councils, landowners, investors, developers, lenders, Housing Associations and Charities.
David Barton Consultant
Commercial Property 01908 689395David Barton joined Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors in 2014 along with his planning and property development team from Williams & Company in Ampthill. David is widely known for his expertise in helping farmers, landowners and property developers grow houses on their land. David now assists the team as a Consultant.
Emma Sidney Licensed Conveyancer
Residential Property 01908 689351A graduate of Northampton University, Emma qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer in 2005. She joined Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors three years later and deals with the lease, sale and purchase of commercial property and residential, as well as representing several national charity organisations.
Georgina Page Chartered Legal Executive
Commercial Property 01908 689361Georgina joined Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors in October 2014 from Williams & Company in Ampthill. Georgina completed the Legal Practice Course at Sheffield University after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a 2:1 in Law (LLB) and qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2020.