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Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill: the next stage of the moratorium on commercial rents

The Government has announced that it is today introducing the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill: the next stage of the moratorium on commercial rents.

For landlords and tenants who have been unable to successfully negotiate commercial rent arrears, the Bill introduced today will set out an arbitration process which will follow principles to be set out in a new Code of Practice. The intention is for the arbitration process to come into force from 25 March 2022. The window to apply for arbitration will be 6 months and the maximum time frame to repay arrears will be 24 months.

It appears that the new process will not apply to all commercial premises: the government has so far provided a non-exclusive list of businesses which includes pubs, gyms, and restaurants. In addition, it will only apply to arrears built up during the periods in which the business was mandated to close.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy will publish a list of approved arbitration bodies.

The Bill will apply to England and Wales and will introduce a power for the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce similar devolved legislation.

The Government has also announced that from today it is also protecting commercial tenants from debt claims and bankruptcy petitions in the courts in relation to rent arrears accrued during the pandemic. It is unclear as of yet whether this will be a measure in the Bill to come into force in the future, or secondary legislation to come into force today.

More details can be found here: New laws and code to resolve remaining COVID-19 commercial rent debts - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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