11 December 2020
The Government has announced that the moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent will be extended for a third time, from 31 December 2020 to 31 March 2021.
The restrictions on serving statutory demands and winding up petitions will also be extended to the end of March, together with the restrictions on using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).
Given that England only recently came out of its second national lockdown, this news comes as little surprise. However, unlike previous extension announcements, this has been described as a "final extension". While another spike in infections could possibly lead to a u turn, this does suggest that Government is now planning to bring an end to this phase of protective measures. The key question is therefore what will happen after the moratorium ends. While this is still unknown, some clues have been given.
It has been confirmed that the Government will conduct a review of "outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation". The legislation being targeted for potential review will include the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, which grants security of tenure to business tenants. Different models of rent payment will also be considered, in conjunction with the impact of the pandemic on the market.
In view of how the Government has managed the pandemic thus far, it seems likely that any changes to existing legislation will be to assist tenants, but precious little detail has been provided. In other words, watch this space!