The coronavirus has caused huge disruption to industry over the last few weeks, and with no sign of when we’ll see a return to normal, some businesses are getting concerned about the properties they rent or own and the utility bills associated with them.
So far the government has agreed to offer relief on energy bills for millions of domestic customers, as well as finding ways to support businesses with loans, tax relief and making cash grants available for those during this financially difficult time.
But where do you stand when it comes to paying rent? And can you just cancel your direct debits for electricity/gas/water?
What do I do about my rent?
In many cases rent will stand, but the best way to assess the situation is to have an open conversation with your landlord. In some cases, tenants will be offered a rent holiday, this doesn’t mean the payments will be cancelled, instead it means they will have to be paid, but can be delayed to a later date.
The government has set aside plans to support businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England who will not have to pay business rates for the 2020–2021 tax year.
According to gov.uk, businesses should not need to take action to get this support, the local council will apply the discounts automatically, but if you’re not getting the support you feel, then contact the local council who will look at it further.
For more information on this point check out our post on how to ask your landlord for a rent cut.
Can I just cancel my utility bills and worry about it when we get back to normal?
The simple answer to this is no.
Essentially the best thing to do is talk directly with your supplier and explain the situation. Before you call ensure you have all your account information to had, and take meter readings for your gas, water and electric to provide during the call.
From there they should be able to provide you with an estimate and help set up a payment plan. Simply cancelling any payments without notification will be a breach of the terms and conditions of the accounts and will cause problems at a later date.
Also, once you’ve taken all the meter readings, make sure that any unnecessary electricity is turned off, that includes fridges/freezers, televisions and computers that have been left on standby, and any unnecessary lighting. This should mean that should a bill come through from the lockdown period, it should be relatively low because of the lack of use.
The only items that should be left on are any safety or security equipment like alarm systems or motion activated outdoor lighting.
Can I cancel my phone and internet contracts during the coronavirus crisis?
Phone and internet contracts can be very expensive and when you’re not in your office and no one is using them the monthly payments can stick in the throat.
Telecommunications companies – like BT – are notoriously difficult to get in touch with and now, more than ever, you’ll struggle to get through to them. Ironic, that isn’t it?
If you’re not using your phone and internet at the showroom or office, it is worth having a conversation with your provider and seeing if they can help cut your costs. Some may offer a payment holiday or help change your tariff to cut costs during the lock down.
Don’t just cancel your payments otherwise this could be a breach of contract and cause issues further down the line. The last thing you want is problems further down the line when you try to get back to normal when the lockdown is lifted.