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Eviction moratorium for leisure and hospitality must be extended

The Chancellor needs to extend his moratorium on evictions into 2021, says Mark Hart.

Mark Hart, a partner at the firm, said: “With rents for the June quarter falling due today (Wednesday) and many retail businesses just getting back to work, many will struggle with payments. This is the first rent quarter since lockdown began, with many tenants having been unable to trade in the period.

“On 19 June, the Government announced that the moratorium on the eviction of business tenants would be extended from the end of June to the end of September. With many retail businesses only just beginning to open and many hospitality businesses remaining closed, this now needs to be extended if the future of the High Street is to be preserved.

“It’s not simply a matter of good tenants and bad landlords. Many forget that landlords have their own business pressures to manage, with their own overheads and banking covenants. It is also the case that landlords of large commercial units, including office buildings, are often the major pension funds which are under huge pressure to ensure adequate income flows to meet ongoing pension payments.”

He added: “There needs to be some joined-up thinking as soon as possible. Many retailers are calling for a basic rent with the balance being paid based on turnover. This would not only encourage them to start trading again and re-consider shutting down businesses, it would also let landlords know that they could cover their overheads.

“The Government could set up a scheme quickly without too much effort, but it needs to be based on extending the current moratorium into next year.”