Shoppers walking down the high streetIt is perhaps not unsurprising that the prohibition on landlords taking forfeiture action will be extended until 30 June 2021 given that the UK government has extended other support measures for UK businesses (such as the furlough scheme) and is keen to avoid the cliff edge of insolvencies that many fear could happen should support come to an end abruptly.

In the government’s announcement it says that its “current position is to support commercial landlords and tenants to agree their own arrangements for paying or writing off rent debts by 30 June.”  But goes on to say:  “if these discussions do not happen and there remains a significant risk to jobs, the government is also prepared to take further steps.”

These steps could range from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by COVID-19.  However before any announcement on what form those measures will take the government will be launching a call for evidence.

For businesses still struggling to get back on their feet due to lockdown restrictions this announcement is likely to be welcome relief, but for landlords who have been unable to forfeit for unpaid rent since 26 March 2020 or recover unpaid rents due to the prohibition on winding up petitions this will be a further blow.

Further reading

See our previous blog discussing the impact of these restrictions.