The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill and pandemic rent arrears
1st December 2021 by Mark Timberlake
The current moratorium on commercial landlords evicting tenants, exercising the right to seize goods or taking insolvency proceedings against them because of rent arrears is due to come to an end on 25 March 2022.
There is currently no prohibition on suing the tenant in the courts for rent arrears and obtaining a judgement for them which can then be enforced using court procedures such as court bailiffs or freezing bank accounts.
The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill has been introduced in Parliament on 9 November 2021, along with a new Code of practice for commercial property relationships following the COVID-19 pandemic The government aims to pass the Bill by 25 March 2022, subject to parliamentary approval.
The Bill will only apply to commercial rent arrears that accrued while businesses were forced to close during the pandemic. It will introduce a statutory arbitration process (statutory arbitration) for commercial landlords and tenants in England and Wales who have not already reached an agreement. Any agreements made voluntarily before the Bill comes into force will not be affected.
While statutory arbitration is in progress, the other remedies available to landlords will be temporarily unavailable, to give priority to the arbitration process. In addition, where debt claims have been initiated on or after 10 November 2021 but before the Bill is in force, they will be frozen if one of the parties applies for a stay, to enable the matter to be resolved by statutory arbitration or otherwise. Where judgment has been given in respect of a protected rent debt in that period, the matter may still be subject to statutory arbitration and enforcement will be stayed.
Laceys has been advising commercial landlords and tenants throughout the pandemic. For advice on this specialist area contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org