The UK government has issued guidance setting out the emergency assistance that will be available to business tenants as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An overview of the measures is set out at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments.
The guidance states that unprecedented measures included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament will mean that no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.
On the face of it, this does provide some relief. It means that commercial tenants that are unable to pay rent because of coronavirus may be temporarily protected from eviction if commercial landlords are not able to forfeit a lease for non-payment of rent for the next three months.
But the devil will be in detail of the final legislation as to what conditions need to be satisfied by a tenant in order to be able to exercise these rights. Currently the measures only apply to rental payments, and not to service charges, insurance and any other costs associated with a commercial lease.
The guidance also encourages collaborative dialogue between landlords and tenants as a way of achieving voluntary arrangements such as rental deferrals or holidays.
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