In light of the current pandemic, the government has introduced emergency legislation which orders a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions for a period of at least three months. This means that during this time, landlords will not be able to exercise any right of forfeiture on tenants who fail to keep up with their rent payments as a direct result of the coronavirus.
With the next quarterly rent falling due imminently, it is without a doubt that the implementation of this legislation will bring about grave concerns for most landlords. This is particularly where many retailers are already starting to feel the effect of the virus following the tight restrictions imposed recently by the government.
Whilst the new legislation will impose a considerable financial burden on landlords, it is important to note that the provision will only delay the right of forfeiture. It will not affect the right to recover any rent unpaid throughout the three month period once the ban has been lifted.
The government has offered assurances that it will continue to monitor the financial impact on commercial landlords, however it has urged businesses to attempt to reach voluntary arrangements with their tenants where possible.
The amendment to the Coronavirus Bill on commercial leases will come into force once it received Royal Assent and is expected to last until 30 June 2020. There is provision for the government to extend this period however if deemed necessary.
Unfortunately, these are unprecedented measures and the situation is changing daily. We expect that further information will be released over the coming days and weeks which will provide additional guidance to commercial landlords and tenants alike.
We intend to provide further updates as the legislation comes into effect, however if you have any queries concerning your ongoing case, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our commercial law team.