Government asked to block commercial evictions as industry faces multibillion-pound rent bill

23 March 2020 by
closed sign restaurant

The government has been asked to block commercial evictions and other sanctions as restaurants and pubs face a multibillion-pound rent bill this week.

Many operators' quarterly rent bills are due on Wednesday, coming three weeks after the industry began haemorrhaging cash due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, UKHospitality has called on the government to urgently enact a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions and debt enforcement. Under current legislation many landlords will be able to seize a property 28 days after a missed rent payment.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "The reality is that this is a critical week for bars and restaurants in London – and another incredibly difficult one. Our analysis suggests the quarter rent day for bars and restaurants is worth billions of pounds. This is money that simply isn't in the system and most businesses cannot pay.

"We want to work with landlords and government to find solutions. We are asking government to look at extending the legal moratorium on forfeiture to include commercial leases – to protect lessees, landlords and most importantly help support and pay our staff.

"This will give us the time we need to negotiate and to focus on our teams. This remains the single biggest obstacle for the sector and unless we find a solution to this issue, it could undermine all of the government's great work to date."

UKHospitality believes that a moratorium on lease forfeiture will help businesses preserve capital until they receive the first payment from the government's new Job Retention Scheme. It has said that unless there is a solution to this issue, hospitality businesses will be unable to lead the recovery once this crisis is over.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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