The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill is currently travelling through Parliament.
The Bill, put forward on the 9th of November 2021, is currently in its second reading. Put forward by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) the objective of the Bill is to make provisions and enable relief from payment of certain rent debts under business tenancies adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, to be made available through arbitration.
The introduction of a mandatory arbitration system, between Landlords and Tenants on the payment of arrears, which arose due to the closing of the business premises during the lockdown, is to remove some of the concerns and threats of closure for Tenants.
The estimated rent arrears across the real estate sector is £7.5bn as a direct result of COVID-19 enforced closures during the pandemic. The target date for the Bill is the 25th of March 2022 and will apply to business tenants in England and Wales.
The Bill will of course have certain criteria for tenancies to be effective. The Bill is aimed at the definition of Rent under a lease and is aimed at Rent, Service Charges, Insurance, and Interest.
The tenancies must have the following:
- The tenant was forced to close their premises or cease trading.
- The lease is a business tenancy, and
- The rent accrued during forced closure.
Careful consideration to the period of forced closure should be made and must be in conjunction with the various stages when restrictions were lifted.
Conditions for Arbitration
Aimed at any Tenant and Landlord that have been unable to agree on outstanding rent, they can apply for arbitration for a period of up to 6 months from when the Bill is enacted.
Once the process has begun, the arbitrator can either:
- decide on the amount of the outstanding rent due.
- allow a times frame of up to 24 months to repay the amount outstanding.
Current court claims
Some property owners have taken action via Court to recover the rents or remove the tenants for non-payment. However, if the claim occurred on or after the 10th of Nov 2021 then either party can apply to stay rent debt claims until the Bill comes into effect.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.