Landlords bemoan extension of commercial evictions ban

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Concerns mount over further extension to March 2022 and introduction of binding arbitration scheme

In March 2020, the UK government announced a ban on the eviction of commercial tenants who were unable to pay their rent. The moratorium was extended until 31 December 2020, then extended further until 31 March and then again until 30 June 2021.

Last month, the government extended the ban on landlord remedies for non-payment of rent yet again to 25 March 2022. At the same time, it announced it would introduce legislation setting out a process of binding arbitration to deal with ringfenced rent debt. However, experts note there is a concerning lack of detail on the arbitration scheme – an omission that, when added to the extension, has alarmed many landlords.

“The moratorium being extended has caught quite a few commercial landlords by surprise,” says Matthew Garrod, real estate partner at Russell-Cooke. “They feel that now lockdowns have ended, they should be able to get on and start to make money in the same way they did previously.”

Landlords and tenants have been urged throughout the pandemic to engage with each other and come to agreements on rent arrears. The binding arbitration is a last resort for those who have been unable to reach a resolution. Using the code of conduct and government guidance, the arbitrator will decide issues such as how much rental arrears should be written off, how much should be postponed and how much should be paid and on what basis.

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