Ministers consult commercial landlords on how to end Covid restrictions

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Commercial landlords have been invited to have their say on how the government should wind-down the evictions ban and restrictions on recovering rent arrears.

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has launched a consultation to understand how landlords and tenants are responding to the build-up of rent arrears, prompted by firms being unable to trade normally during the pandemic.

It wants to assess the risk to economic recovery posed by remaining rent debts and to understand how landlords and tenants are adjusting existing lease terms to reflect the period of recovery that many tenant businesses will need once trading restrictions are lifted.

Views gathered will shape government policy and help it plan a “carefully managed exit” to preserve tenant businesses and the jobs they support.

Stark warning

Temporary measures, which also include restrictions on the use of winding-up petitions and statutory demands, are in place until 30th June, but the department warns: “If there is evidence that productive discussions between landlords and tenants are not taking place, and that this represents a substantial and ongoing threat to jobs and livelihoods, the government will not hesitate to intervene further.

It adds that although many landlords have raised concerns about tenant businesses using Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) to alter lease terms and disclaim leases of unprofitable locations, particularly after the landlord has agreed rent concessions with the tenant, their use doesn’t form part of this call for evidence.

Instead, the government will separately continue to monitor CVAs and the impact that these recent developments are having on landlords. 

Landlords can take the online survey until 4th May.

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