Legislation that will protect businesses against aggressive rent collection tactics by landlords during the coronavirus lockdown has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
The government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands and winding up orders where companies cannot pay their bills due to coronavirus, to ensure they do not fall into deeper financial strain.
The measures will be included in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, which the business secretary Alok Sharma set out earlier this month.
The government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent by preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
Sharma, said: “In this exceptional time for the UK, it is vital that we ensure businesses are kept afloat so that they can continue to provide the jobs our economy needs beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our unprecedented package of support can help commercial landlords, including through the recent expansion of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme.
“I know that like all businesses they are under pressure, but I would urge them to show forbearance to their tenants. I am also taking steps to ensure the minority of landlords using aggressive tactics to collect their rents can no longer do so while the COVID-19 emergency continues.”
The new measures are in addition to the previously announced moratorium on evictions for commercial tenants for at least a three-month period.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “During this period of significant disruption, we are doing everything we can to ensure that commercial tenants are as well placed as possible to get back to business from the pandemic.
“We understand that landlords are facing their own very serious pressures and are concerned about their position with lenders. We are working with banks and investors to seek ways to address these issues and guide the whole sector through the pandemic.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome action from the government to support local shops with more breathing space to pay bills and avoid aggressive debt recovery methods during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is especially relevant to local shops trading in city centres and transport hubs that have seen the biggest decline in trade and may be struggling.”