The government has announced that the ban on commercial evictions has been extended by three months until 30 June.
The ban on bailiff-enforced evictions for residential tenants has been extended until at least 31 May, except for instances such as fraud and domestic abuse.
Secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick said: “It is right that as we move through the roadmap, we ensure that businesses and renters continue to be supported.
“We have taken unprecedented action to support both commercial and residential tenants throughout the pandemic – with a £280bn economic package to keep businesses running and people in jobs and able to meet their outgoings, such as rent.
“These measures build on the government’s action to provide financial support as restrictions are lifted over the coming months - extending the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the Universal Credit uplift.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “We’re doing everything we can to ensure businesses get the support they need to get through this pandemic and reopen when it is safe to do so.
“I know business owners will welcome this latest package of support and the breathing space it will give them to prepare for a safe reopening, and, ultimately, to build back better.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation said: “The government has acknowledged that the majority of tenants and property owners are working well together – with tenants being transparent about their finances, and property owners supporting those in distress with emergency relief and new, longer-term rent payment arrangements. New, stronger relationships have been built through this process. Nevertheless, there is a minority where relationships have broken down and become toxic, and the continuation of the moratorium will do nothing to unlock the stalemate and allow the market to re-set and recover.
“With further rates relief and new grants, and a clear plan for re-opening, high streets businesses should be confident in approaching their property owners to forge an economic partnership in which they can agree how to manage rental debt fairly. Rational property owners want their tenants to thrive – empty properties generate no income and are a blight on our high streets.
“As they prepare to re-open, in premises which property owners and their agents have kept safe and well-maintained, the scandal of those well-capitalised businesses who can pay rent, but have chosen not to, cannot be allowed to continue. Their behaviour has raided our nation’s pensions and savings invested in commercial property, and has been a heavy blow for already stretched local authority landlords and public finances.”
Stephen Springham, head of retail research at Knight Frank, added: “The emergency intervention was well-intended but has potentially been exploited by some well-capitalised businesses to withhold rent. The extension, with no fixed end point, means the impasse over rental arrears will continue, with property owners left with limited options and many not in a position to defer rent and extend leases.
“Even in normal times the high street is a case of ‘survival of the fittest’ but we will only see this evolution once normal trading conditions resume. While retail occupiers need all the respite they can get, the impasse cannot continue indefinitely and the proverbial can must be picked up and addressed.”