eviction tenant notice door

In the latest measure to protect businesses that are unable to make rent payments because of coronavirus, the government has introduced a ban on evictions of commercial tenants.

It comes following Boris Johnson’s introduction of strict lockdown rules across the UK in an attempt to reduce the swell of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the country, including the closure of all ‘non-essential’ retailers.

The measures to prevent the outbreak from expanding wider have impacted every element of individuals’ lives and, for businesses across many sectors, resulted in demand and incomes falling off a cliff edge.

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It has resulted in a number of government interventions aiming to keep businesses alive and viable so that the economy can restart once the epidemic passes, with support so far including a new coronavirus loan scheme with free-interest for 12 months, cash grants for small to medium-size retailers, deferred VAT payments and a job retention scheme to prevent mass unemployment.

This latest measure introduced by the government will now see commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus be protected from eviction.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP said: “We are taking unprecedented action and doing so at unprecedented speed, because we know that businesses and their employees need help now.

“That is why we are taking steps to change the law so that no company can be forced out of its premises due to loss of income. Alongside our support for workers and £330 billion of business loans and guarantees, this will help make a real difference to firms across the country trying to protect jobs.”

With many landlords and tenants already in talks and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly, the government says it recognises that businesses struggling with their cash flow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction.

These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.

Importantly, commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period and the government confirmed it is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow as it continues conversations with them.

With many mobility retailers deciding to close the doors to their showrooms for the short-term in a bid to protect staff and customers, the announcement that evictions are no longer prohibited may come as a small relief for some experiencing immediate cash flow concerns.

“Small businesses will wholeheartedly welcome the decision to ban evictions for commercial tenants for three months,” commented Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman.

“This will give peace of mind to millions of small businesses who are desperately struggling with their cash flow.

“We know sensible conversations between landlords and commercial tenants are taking place – but having this legislative backstop to prevent evictions during the worst of the crisis will provide much-needed peace of mind for many small businesses.”

The Coronavirus Bill also includes new measures to ensure that Business Improvement Districts (BID) are equipped to continue their vital role in managing the impact of the crisis on local economies and helping town centres and high streets recover.

Applying to all commercial tenants, the amendment to the Coronavirus Bill on commercial leases will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, lasting until the 30th June – with an option for the government to extend if needed.

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