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Government extends rent moratorium to March 2022

Published:  17 June, 2021

The government has announced new legislation which will extend the rent moratorium past the former 30 June 2021 deadline, while also introducing a new arbitration system to solve disputes between landlords and commercial tenants affected by the pandemic.

The extension was announced in the House of Commons yesterday where Treasury chief secretary Steve Barclay told MPs that the current ban on evictions for unpaid commercial rent would be extended past the end of this month following the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions being pushed back to 19 July.

Commercials tenants will be protected from eviction and being taken to court with rent arrears until 25 March 2022.

According to UK Hospitality (UKH), there is currently an estimated £2.5bn in rent arrears built up by hospitality firms during the course of the pandemic.

Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKH, said: “These measures are wholly welcome and will banish a grim shadow that has hung menacingly over hospitality since the Covid crisis began 15 months ago. The legislation will form a strong bedrock for negotiated and fair settlements that can help heal the damage that the pandemic has wrought, and is a hugely positive signal that the government has been listening to our sector, and acted to ease its plight.”

The legislation also includes a new arbitration system to solve disputes between landlords and commercial tenants.

In many cases, landlords and tenants have managed to come to an amicable arrangement over rent arrears. For those who have not, the government’s announcement brings in “an equitable solution where there is a sharing of the pain”, Nicholls said.

She added: “These are unprecedented measures but wholly merited and justified in these unprecedented times, bringing some stability back to an uncertain and unsettled property market. At last, this existential crisis for hospitality looks like reaching a fair conclusion, easing a path to recovery for a sector that can help the national economy back to prosperity.”

The moratorium was initally launched in March 2020 to give retail tenants protection from "aggressive" actions by landlords, such as eviction or seizure of stock during the pandemic, and was later extended until 30 June 2021.

It has now been extended for an additional nine months.