Moratorium extended as rent code published

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Breathing space: the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratorium has been extended to 30 September and a code of practice on rent has been published
Breathing space: the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratorium has been extended to 30 September and a code of practice on rent has been published

Related tags: Rent, Coronavirus

The lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratorium has been extended into the autumn, meaning pubs continue to be protected from eviction threats.

Ministers have also published a code of practice for landlords and tenants to facilitate constructive discussions about rent going forward.

The Government announced in March that commercial tenants who could not pay their rent would be protected from eviction for three months​, following the shutdown order to limit the spread of coronavirus. It means no business can be forced out of its premises if it misses a payment within this period, although will still be liable for the rent after this period.

It also temporarily voided statutory demands and winding-up petitions​ issued to commercial tenants amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Code of practice 

The eviction protection has now been extended to 30 September.

The newly-published code said tenants should aim to pay rent in full where they can but in situations where they cannot, landlords should support them. It outlines four principles, headed as transparency and collaboration; a unified approach; Government support; and acting reasonably and responsibly.

Tenants and landlords are asked to “act reasonably, swiftly, transparently and in good faith.”

The code can be read in full on the Government's website.

The announcement has been welcomed by trade bodies, which helped devise the code and pushed the Government to extend the moratorium.

Negotiated solutions

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the moratorium should be further extended until the end of the year to allow the code of conduct to support negotiations that could prevent a loss of pubs.

She added: “The hospitality sector has seen its income almost totally wiped out by this crisis and therefore businesses simply cannot meet their rent obligations. Although the majority of landlords have been pragmatic, a minority have aggressively pursued tenants that have been closed for months and no ability to pay.

“This code goes some way to bringing together landlords and tenants in the pursuit of a negotiated solution to allow hospitality businesses to move on and revert to the new normal, but this must be recognised as a first step that needs to be built on by all parties.

Nicholls reiterated the sector’s calls for further financial support to prevent job losses and businesses going under.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “As our high streets come to life and our town centres open for business, it is crucial both landlords and tenants have clarity and reassurance as they seek to keep their finances stable and bounce back.

“That is why we are extending measures to protect those who are unable to pay rent from eviction so that businesses have the security they need to plan for their futures.

He said the code would “unlock conversations on rent and future payments whilst ensuring best practice is displayed across the board.”

Related topics: Property law

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