Editor: The extension of the commercial evictions moratorium is a kick in the teeth for landlords, who have mostly been made out in the media to be big bad wolves preying on tenants unable to trade. This is quite simply not the case.
I understand the moratorium was put in place to protect jobs, but it has gone on too long. The government has promoted open dialogue between landlords and tenants to find amicable solutions, but any agreement has no teeth because the remedy for non-performance has been taken away.
Some opportunistic tenants who can pay but won’t pay have taken all the grants available yet built up substantial arrears. Now these arrears will get bigger, with potentially a catastrophic impact on landlords.
I have a few tenants who were struggling before the pandemic and now have been given a two-year pass to trade without consequence for rent non-payment. I suspect that on 1 April 2022 they will wind the company up and leave the property in a dilapidated state – and a week later rise like a phoenix from the ashes and set up a new company.
What protection does a landlord have from this? None. What assistance have they received since the pandemic hit? None. So why should landlords put up with it?
I have read reports about landlords “forcing” tenants to take loans to pay rent, but what is wrong with getting a loan? The landlord is not an interest-free bank. It is not their responsibility to support tenants’ business. It is in their gift to provide rent incentives and other assistance, but each situation needs to be dealt with on its own merits. Arbitration is a potential course of action, but the law has historically favoured tenants and I don’t expect this to change.
I suspect that for landlords the next nine months will be tough, especially where receiving rent is paramount for survival, resulting in fire sales or worse.
James McArthur, director, NG Chartered Surveyors