Commercial tenants have been gifted one last extension to the evictions ban, giving them another three months of breathing space, housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) has announced.

The moratorium on non-payment of rent during the pandemic had been due to end on 31st December but will now last until 31st March.

Bailiffs can’t seize goods until then, while restrictions on serving statutory demands and winding-up petitions have also been extended until then.

Formal demands for the repayment of debt and requests to the courts to liquidate a business owing rent can’t be made until after the final moratorium comes to an end.

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Jenrick insists that the move is needed to help those businesses struggling the most, such as hospitality, and has assured landlords that it’s the final extension to a temporary measure.

Rent holiday

“We expect both sides of the sector to use this time to negotiate and the Government will issue further guidance to facilitate constructive discussions,” he says.

“This measure is not a rent holiday: where a tenant is unable to pay in full, landlords and tenants should be coming together to negotiate in good faith, using the principles set out in the voluntary Code of Practice we published in June.”

Many commercial landlords still have non-paying tenants as the latest research from Remit Consulting projects a rent shortfall of about 20% at the end of the current quarter.

Jenrick has also announced that a review of the commercial landlord and tenant relationship will take place in the new year. It follows concerns that the current commercial leasehold legislation hasn’t kept pace with the realities of the sector, and could include different methods of rent payment.

He adds: “The review will make recommendations to Government on how to ensure a flexible and fit-for-purpose legislative framework that enables sustainable occupation of thriving high streets/town centres in the future.”

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