Commercial tenants who miss a payment in the next three months because of the coronavirus outbreak will be protected from eviction, the government has announced.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said many landlords and tenants were already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognised businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remained worried about eviction.
The measures protecting commercial tenants are included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament.
Commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after the three-month period is over. The government said it would actively monitor the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and would continue to be in dialogue with them.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We are protecting both people and their businesses by providing the urgent support they need.
“We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays.
“However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next three months.”
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said: “Small businesses will wholeheartedly welcome the decision to ban evictions for commercial tenants for three months.
“This will give piece of mind to millions of small businesses who are desperately struggling with their cash flow.”
The amendment to the Coronavirus Bill on commercial leases will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It applies to all commercial tenants.
The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. It will last until 30 June, with an option for the government to extend if needed.
The MHCLG also said that to ensure no area loses its Business Improvement District, emergency legislation would allow a delay to ballots between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021. “This will ensure that they are conducted in a safe and effective way.”