Car dealers fearing eviction after being allowed to pause their rent payments because of the pandemic have been granted another reprieve.
The Times is reporting today (Jun 17) that the current ban on evictions for unpaid commercial rent – brought in when the crisis began in March 2020 and which was supposed to end on June 30 following a number of extensions – has been extended further to March 25, 2022.
It quoted Treasury chief secretary Steve Barclay as announcing the move, telling the Commons it was ‘the right balance’ to help firms and protect landlords.
But he added: ‘To be clear, all tenants should start to pay rent again in accordance with the terms of their lease, or as otherwise agreed with their landlord, as soon as restrictions are removed on their sector if they are not already doing so.’
Earlier this week, a new arbitration system was also announced to try to solve disputes between landlords and commercial tenants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The moratorium on commercial evictions was brought in to help firms trade their way through the pandemic. However, it’s estimated to have led to rent arrears of more than £6bn, which has angered landlords.
The Times quoted James Raynor, chief executive of property group Grosvenor’s British and Irish division, as saying: ‘I find it astonishing that one whole industry is being targeted by government intervention and being deprived of their rights under the law.
‘Owners and occupiers clearly need to work together in sensible partnership. I don’t see this helping, sadly.’
However, British Retail Consortium head Helen Dickinson was quoted as saying the latest extension and announcement of the arbitration system had arrived ‘in the nick of time’.