The eviction moratorium on commercial property tenants has been extended until the end of March 2021.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that the ban, which was originally extended from September 30 to the end of 2020, will now protect struggling tenants until March next year.

The “final extension” will give tenants and landlords three months to come to an agreement on outstanding rent payments, and further guidance and support for negotiations is due to be released by the government in coming days.

“The support is for the businesses struggling the most during the pandemic, such as those in hospitality, however, those that are able to pay their rent should do so,” Jenrick said.

“We are witnessing a profound adjustment in commercial property. It is critical that landlords and tenants across the country use the coming months to reach agreements on rent wherever possible and enable viable businesses to continue to operate.”

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls welcomed the extension, but warned that it must be accompanied by long-term and financial support to avoid a “calamity of evictions on 1 April.”

“If it is to be the final extension to the moratoria, then it is absolutely crucial that it is followed swiftly by a cohesive and comprehensive package of recovery measures from the Government,” she said. “The focus now needs to turn to helping businesses begin to get back towards full strength and trade their way out of danger.

“An extension to the business rates holiday and VAT cut are a must, alongside loans to tenants where landlords have provided rent concessions.

“The Government must facilitate a resolution to the problem of rent debt which has built up over a devastating year. The forthcoming enhancements to the Code of Practice must bring landlords to the table to find a solution. They cannot be allowed to simply wait until April in order to evict and wind-up businesses.

“The review of Commercial Property legislation, due to begin in the New Year, must also be delivered at pace. We have been calling for this for a long time and it needs to happen sooner rather than later if we hope to see more businesses benefit from it.”

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