With England slowly easing restrictions following a third national lockdown, the Government has quietly extended the existing moratorium on landlords’ ability to take enforcement action against commercial tenants with rent arrears via winding up petitions and the use of statutory demands to 30 June 2021.
This is the third extension, with the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020 originally coming into force on 30 June 2020 in order to provide to tenants and companies protection in response to forced closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Landlords’ rights remain restricted under the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) procedure. The CRAR procedure includes the ability to send in bailiffs to seize goods to the value of unpaid rent.
The Government has increased the threshold of outstanding arrears that are required before a landlord can exercise its rights. Between 25 March and 23 June there will need to be 457 days of outstanding rent. This will rise to 554 days between 24 and 30 June.
Whilst this further extension is welcomed by tenant retailers, and coincides with the anticipated lifting of all legal limits on social contact by 21 June 2021, landlords could find themselves with up to 12 months of unpaid rent from some tenants with limited means of recovery. The Government is still encouraging landlords and tenants to agree their own arrangements for paying or writing off rent debts by 30 June 2021. A call for evidence has also been launched to help monitor the overall progress of commercial rents and set out potential steps the Government could take after 30 June. In the meantime, this further moratorium extension does little to allay the concern of landlords.