Thursday, 11 March 2021

COVID-19: Eviction Ban Extended for Commercial and Residential Tenants

 The government has announced the ban on commercial evictions is extended to 30 June 2021, and the six-month notice period and bailiff enforced eviction ban is extended to 31 May 2021 to protect residential tenants.

The government says it will consider the best approach to move away from emergency protections from the beginning of June, taking into account public health advice and the wider roadmap.

Commercial tenants

The restrictions on forfeiture of busines tenancies for non-payment of rent are to continue in England until 30 June 2021 (which corresponds with the position in Wales).

The government is also extending the restriction on the use of the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) process by landlords, which will increase the total number of days’ outstanding rent required for CRAR to be used to 457 days’ between 25 March and 23 June, and 554 days’ between the 24 and 30 June.

The government’s current position is to support commercial landlords and tenants to agree their own arrangements for paying or writing off rent debts by 30 June. This is supported by the code of conduct published by the government last year, setting out best practice for these negotiations. But, if these discussions do not happen and there remains a significant risk to jobs, the government says it is also prepared to take further steps.

The government is launching a call for evidence on commercial rents to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords.

The call for evidence will also set out potential steps that government could take after 30 June, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by COVID-19.

The government’s position remains that any businesses that can pay all or any of their rent should do so.

There is to be a review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation later this year, which will consider a broad range of issues, including the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II, different models of rent payment, and the impact of coronavirus on the market. 

Residential tenants

The restrictions on residential evictions in England will continue until 31 May 2021. It is not yet clear whether the current exemptions (for example where there are 6 months arrears or more) will be varied at all. [UPDATE 24/3/21 - the new regulations have now been issued and there is no change to the exemptions.]

The increased notice period of 6 months will continue to apply until 31 May 2021.

Court arrangements and rules introduced in September 2020 have been extended to the end of July 2021 to ensure that the most serious cases, such as anti-social behaviour or fraud, are prioritised and landlords will be required to provide the courts with information on how the pandemic has impacted their tenants.

For claims issued before 3 August 2020 the service of a reactivation notice has been extended to 30 April 2021.

A new free mediation pilot is also under way to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes without a formal court hearing. 

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