Editor: It comes as no great surprise that the government has performed a U-turn on the moratorium on commercial property evictions.
As a managing agent, I have been on the frontline since March 2020, speaking to landlords and tenants daily, entering into sensible dialogue and promoting open lines of communications as we try to work together to find sensible solutions. These conversations got harder and harder as the pandemic continued and the arrears increased, and landlord and tenant relationships started to suffer.
The moratorium has created a huge house of cards that could come tumbling down when it finally ends – and everyone will lose out. Tenants will have rent arrears they cannot meet and landlords won’t recover back rent and will face vacant property holding costs, as well as potential unrecoverable dilapidations claims. If bank funding is involved, then landlords and investors could start to default on loan agreements.
Yes, the moratorium has provided further protection and breathing space for the tenants who are genuinely struggling, but it has also provided “can pay, won’t pay” tenants with more leverage in negotiations with landlords.
The extension of the moratorium is another blow for commercial landlords, especially considering the restart grants and recovery loan schemes being offered to tenants. How much of this money will find its way to the landlords that have received no assistance over the past 12 months?
James McArthur, director, NG Chartered Surveyors