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Govt launches review into commercial rents as it extends moratorium

Published:  11 March, 2021

The UK government has extended the rent moratorium, which was due to expire at the end of this month, by three months. 

The extension, announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP, means that hospitality businesses will be protected from landlord eviction actions until the end of June.

“It is right that as we move through the roadmap, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported. We have taken unprecedented action to support both commercial and residential tenants throughout the pandemic – with a £280bn economic package to keep businesses running and people in jobs and able to meet their outgoings, such as rent,” said Jenrick.

At the same time, Jenrick also announced that the government was launching a call for evidence on commercial rents to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords.

The call for evidence, said Jenrick, would also set out potential steps that government could take after 30 June, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by Covid-19.

The issue of rent liabilities has seen the sector build up a debt of about £8bn over the past 14 months.

Extending the moratorium was a “sensible and positive step” by the government,” said Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality CEO.

“It was really the only option for businesses that are on the brink of reopening but have piled up so much rent debt over the past year,” she said. 

It was even more encouraging to see the government issuing a call for evidence on the possibility of additional measures to solve the rent crisis, she added. 

“Rent debt has spiralled to unmanageable levels for too many businesses through no fault of their own. We have reached an impasse that threatens the survival of many businesses right at the moment they are looking to reopen and rebuild.

“We must find a mutually agreeable solution that works for all parties involved – tenants, landlords and investors. Tenants have borne the brunt of the pain of closure so far and it is clear that others need to take their share, too.”

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the Welsh government’s three-month rent moratorium extension announced yesterday.