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Wed 16th Sep 2020 - Government extends anti-eviction measures to end of year but UKHospitality warns move is only ‘stay of execution’
Government extends anti-eviction measures to end of year but UKHospitality warns move is only ‘stay of execution’: Businesses will be protected from the threat of eviction until the end of year, “providing commercial tenants with greater security and protecting vital jobs”, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced – but UKHospitality has warned the move is “only a stay of execution”. The government said the measure was on top of the wider ranging financial package it has provided, backed by £160bn, “to protect jobs, incomes and business throughout and beyond this pandemic”. The government also stated where businesses can pay their rent, they should do so because this support was “aimed at those businesses struggling the most during the pandemic”. This move will help businesses remain in their premises without the threat of eviction for the rest of this year, giving them the chance to focus on rebuilding their business over the autumn and Christmas period, the government stated. The current moratorium on commercial evictions had been due to finish at the end of the month, and business leaders in the hospitality and retail industries had previously warned many companies could be at risk of collapse, given the next quarter’s rent bill is due. Jenrick said: “We are extending support to protect those businesses that are unable to pay their rent from eviction to the end of the year. This will stop businesses going under and protect jobs over the coming months. This government is committed to supporting businesses and our high streets at this difficult time, and this extension of support will help businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic and plan for the future.” Business secretary Alok Sharma added: “During this particularly challenging time for businesses, it is crucial landlords and tenants have the clarity and reassurance they need to build back better from the pandemic. Extending the temporary measures we put in place earlier this year to protect businesses from the threat of eviction will give them some much-needed breathing space at a critical moment in the UK’s economic recovery.” The government will also extend the restriction on landlords using Commercial Rents Arrears Recovery to enforce unpaid rent on commercial leases, until the end of the year. The government said landlords and tenants should continue to work together to agree rent payment options if businesses are struggling and pointed to its Code of Practice, published in June, to support these discussions. However, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a welcome step forward and should give businesses some much-needed breathing room to come to agreements. This alone, however, is not going to solve the crisis. It’s critical the government also extends the moratorium on statutory demands and winding-up petitions and include County Court Judgments. This should be extended until the end of March 2021 to give maximum opportunity to find solutions. It needs to be followed by further support that, crucially, must include working with landlords and tenants to find a mutually equitable solution. The debt is not going to go away and many businesses have no chance of paying. This is a stay of execution, but we are still short of a full reprieve.”

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