Editor: Senior property industry figures may have described the government’s nine-month extension of the commercial property eviction moratorium as “crazy”, but in my view anything other than this would have resulted in a feeding frenzy for lawyers and insolvency practitioners, as many thousands of companies face collapse against a rising mountain of debt.

Covid closure

Source: shutterstock/Willy Barton

Businesses across the country have been clinging to a cliff edge for weeks and this extension has offered them the parachute they so desperately need, avoiding Armageddon for our industry.

After everything tenants have endured over this past year, they deserve a soft landing and some temporary breathing space.

Last year saw the deepest economic contraction in history and according to UKHospitality, only two in five hospitality businesses are operating profitably, so this announcement is a welcome indication that the government is listening to more than the rhetoric of large influential landlords.

The government has effectively preserved the DNA of our economy: our businesses, large and small.

The legislation to seek binding arbitration over rent arrears is a watershed moment and will ensure our economy, jobs and livelihoods are not massacred by a sudden end to the eviction moratorium.

Instead of kicking the can down this rocky road, the extension to achieve a binding or negotiated settlement can finally provide a pragmatic solution to the growing mountain of rent arrears.

The friction needs to be set aside now, and the focus must move towards getting landlords and tenants to collaborate, ensuring constructive and conclusive discussions take place.

The future of the commercial property industry depends on changing the language, narrative and relationships from adversarial to symbiotic.

Peter Bell, chief executive, The Commercial Tenants Association