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On-trade venues given three-month rent reprieve

The UK government has introduced emergency legislation to prevent landlords from repossessing commercial properties if businesses are unable to pay their rent during the covid-19 pandemic.

Bars, pubs and clubs in the UK have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of businesses in the UK were due to pay their quarterly rent on Wednesday (25 March), which many would have struggled to meet due to the huge hit coronavirus has had on all sectors, including hospitality.

However, the introduction of a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions and debt enforcement for at least three months means businesses, including many bars and restaurants, will be breathing a sigh of relief as they will not have to worry about evictions if they cannot pay their rent this week.

Commercial tenants will be liable for the rent after this period. The government said it was in discussions with debt-burdened landlords and monitoring the cash flow of affected property firms.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “With the next pending rent day falling this Wednesday, this move by the government is hugely welcome and will help to protect jobs across the sector.

“This industry has been pressing ministers for several days to act on this crucial issue, and we are thankful they have responded positively to our concerns.

“While this removes the immediate cash flow pressure of quarter rent day, the government has made clear that the negotiation is now with lessee and landlord to reach a solution on payment.

“Hospitality businesses want to work with landlords constructively during this crisis to find solutions and the hope now is that they enter into meaningful discussions on the optimum way forward.”

On Friday last week, prime minister Boris Johnson ordered all pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK to close in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

On Monday night (23 March), Johnson introduced strict new curbs to combat the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on public gatherings of two or more people. The UK population has been ordered to stay at home, except for grocery shopping, exercising once a day, and necessary travel to work.

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