Editor: I read with interest your coverage of the BPF’s call for landlords to submit evidence to MHCLG’s eviction ban consultation, which will undoubtedly offer the government invaluable insight as to what should happen after the ban is lifted.

Closed Covid

Source: Shutterstock/ Chansomm Pantip

While we sympathise with both tenants and landlords who have suffered immeasurably due to the pandemic, the survival of the tenant – the paying customer – is the cornerstone to the survival of the economy as well as, ultimately, to landlords themselves.

Although the moratoria have offered significant protection for commercial tenants, we need clear guidance from the government as to how these measures can be lifted in a controlled and calibrated way to avoid a cliff-edge effect – a potential Armageddon for thousands of businesses.

The grim alternative is that struggling companies, unable to pay rent, BB/CBIL loan repayments and VAT deferments due to the pandemic, will be forced to close and effectively thrown onto the streets.

The current government support schemes simply do not address ongoing rent commitments. As businesses only just start to recover, the gradual relaxation of Covid restrictions will not take immediate effect and it will take months for businesses to get back to normal levels of trading and rent repayment affordability.

Hence we also call for the government to support tenants that have built up significant arrears, currently estimated at circa £7bn. Landlords should also be supported with a level of rent arrears write-offs.

The Commercial Tenants Association will be responding to the call for evidence as the UK’s representative body for commercial tenants. However, we also urge all commercial tenants, large or small, to provide their own views.

Landlords should also encourage their tenants to do the same.

Peter Bell, founder, The Commercial Tenants Association