Hospitality businesses need urgent support to protect them from punitive legal sanctions from commercial landlords, UK Hospitality has informed the Government.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, the trade body called for an immediate extension of the forfeiture moratorium for 6 months and a widening of the scope to include broader debt enforcement measures, including winding-up orders, statutory demands and commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR), and has also urged Government to ask landlords to use time to renegotiate terms with tenants.

Whilst it recognised that many measures in the Coronavirus Act have had a positive impact in protecting jobs in the sector, the body has said that the negative response of a “significant proportion” of the landlord community, instigating alternative sanctions, means a forfeiture moratorium to cover all sanctions is necessary.

“Costs associated with action instigated since the Government’s forfeiture moratorium must also not be passed onto tenants,” it said. “This disincentive to the hostile tactics that we are witnessing will help to ensure business and job survival until permanent solutions can be found.”

“We urge you to take the actions outlined above to avoid the positive measures implemented by Government undermined by the actions of some landlords and their investor communities.”

“There is a limited window of opportunity to prevent irreparable damage to the physical business environment of the country.”

“This is an unprecedented medical, social and economic crisis for the country, with citizens pulling together,” added Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality CEO. “Millions of people’s livelihoods and job security depend on businesses working in harmony. Business as usual cannot apply at this stage. Yet, landlords are effectively signing a death sentence for many businesses that are just about keeping afloat.

“We need legal protection to buy time for under-pressure businesses. Otherwise, they will fold, and even more jobs lost.”