UKH welcomes bill to deal with Covid rent debt

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill: new laws for hospitality welcomed by trade body UKHospitality (Credit: Getty/sturti)
Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill: new laws for hospitality welcomed by trade body UKHospitality (Credit: Getty/sturti)

Related tags Legislation Kate nicholls ukhospitality coronavirus Finance

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has welcomed the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, citing dealing with rent debt “imperative” for the sector as it recovers from the Covid pandemic.

The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill ​is a provision enabling relief from payment of certain rent debts under business tenancies adversely affected by coronavirus to be available through arbitration, with the Government having encouraged commercial landlords and tenants to negotiate their own agreement where possible.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These are very welcome new laws for the hospitality industry: the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill is decisive Government legislation to deal with the £7bn-plus rent debt accrued during the pandemic by businesses across all sectors.

Sector recovery 

“As our sector tries to recover, it’s imperative rent debt is dealt with, otherwise it’ll hamstring our recovery.”

The new laws for hospitality, announced as having been granted Royal Assent by Business Minister Paul Scully on Thursday 24 March, apply to commercial rent debts procured by businesses including pubs, gyms, and restaurants during the period of mandated to closure, in full or in part, from March 2020 until Covid restrictions ended for the sectors.

Last Thursday (24 March) was the last day of the general moratorium on commercial evictions and restrictions on Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) in England and Wales.

However, eligible firms remain protected for the next six months during which arbitration can be applied for or until the conclusion of an arbitration.

UKH has confirmed it will produce detailed guidance for tenants with regards to approaching the arbitrations process and urged arbitrators to “preserve businesses and jobs”.

Preserve businesses and jobs

Nicholls added: “UKH will produce detailed guidance for webinars on how tenants should approach the arbitration process, and we’ll be urging arbitrators they should be seeking to preserve businesses and jobs, which will of course be vital to the hospitality sector’s efforts to lead the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.

“At the same time, landlords should take a pragmatic approach to the arbitration process.

“We’re also encouraging affected businesses to complete the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) rent survey, which seeks to ensure that the views of businesses are ‘heard and taken into account’.”

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