News update: Evictions ban for business owners affected by the Covid-19 pandemic
The moratorium on forfeiture proceedings for commercial leases has been extended until the end of March 2021 to protect businesses from the threat of eviction and to help them rebuild over the winter months.
Restrictions on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRARS) have also been extended to try and help businesses pay any outstanding rent owed.
Finally, a review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation will also be launched early next year, to better align the system with the current economic conditions.
More information is due to be published shortly including support to aid negotiations between landlords and tenants. The full details of this announcement can be found on here on .gov.uk
30th September 2020 - Covid-19 legislative amendments
The Government has announced that the moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent will be extended from 30th September to 31st December 2020.
Whilst forfeiture provisions should remain included in all new leases, from a practical perspective, landlords will be unable to exercise such provisions until the end of the moratorium.
9th September 2020 update:
If your business is required to shut due to lockdown restrictions or other local interventions, then you may be able to claim a grant of up to £1,500 for every three weeks it remains closed.
Further details, including the amounts businesses could be entitled to are contained in the full announcement on .gov.uk
4th May 2020 update:
On 2nd May 2020, the government announced new funding worth £617m for small businesses in shared spaces such as coworking spaces or market traders. This support comes in the form of £10,000 & £25,000 grants to small businesses that missed out on the coronavirus business rates relief grants announced back in March.
Many small businesses missed out on those grants because they weren’t on their local council’s rates list. The aim of this new fund is to help those small businesses with their fixed property-related costs.
Local authorities are to prioritise businesses in shared spaces mentioned above, as well as those occupying small charity properties, bed and breakfasts that pay council tax instead of business rates and other businesses as they see fit. At their discretion, local authorities may make payments of under £10,000.
To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and be able to show that they’ve suffered a significant drop in income as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and resulting restrictions.
Commercial tenancies and Covid-19
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced a range of measures aimed at supporting businesses to cope during this challenging time.
These include the option to defer VAT and income tax payments, statutory sick pay relief packages for SMEs and a 12-month business rates holiday for certain businesses.
Despite this, the situation for many businesses remains tenuous and we will be maintaining and updating our guidance as and when the situation develops.
Visit the gov.uk website for their own COVID-19 guidance and documentation for business.
Advice for landlords and tenants
Landlords and tenants in need of relief should first look very carefully at the support measures that have already been announced to make sure they're taking advantage of any help that's being offered.
If tenants have concerns about being able to make their rent payments, they should speak to their landlords as soon as possible.
While landlords are under no obligation to do so, they may be willing to agree to defer or reduce the rent owed until the current crisis subsides.
In this guide you'll learn what the UK laws say about the terms agreed between commercial landlords and tenants.
Whether you're a commercial landlord or a tenant, the videos, notes and infographics within this guide should give you the information you need to be confident your commercial tenancy agreements are correct, fair and legally compliant.
And if you're looking for tailored advice just for your business, get in touch via our Speak to an Adviser feature and we'll connect you with an expert who can assist you.
What does it mean to be a commercial landlord?
Being a landlord is a business. And, like all business activities, while much of what landlords and tenants may agree between them is the product of negotiation and market dynamics, law also plays a key part.
The law that governs landlord and tenant relationships is well established and, in a number of cases, it's non-negotiable.
If you're a landlord providing premises to someone intending to run their business from that spot, or you're a business tenant about to agree terms with a landlord for those purposes, you should be aware of these laws.
Commercial leases are a significant commitment that can have a very material impact on a business and its prospects of success. If either a landlord or tenant becomes unhappy with the terms they've agreed, wants to end them or wants to change them, what's gone into the terms of that agreement may suddenly become critically important and potentially very contentious.
So, here's what you need to know up front...
7 key terms you should know as a commercial landlord
The UK's property laws applicable to business landlords and tenants are peppered with terms and phrases that have very defined legal meaning.
Take a quick look at our infographic below for a fast summary of some of the main ones you'll come across in this guide.
Why it's important to know about landlord and tenant law
The principal law governing business landlord and tenant relationships is called the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
If you're agreeing a lease or an underlease to use a property for business reasons, this statute will automatically apply to the terms of your relationship with your tenant, unless the agreement to occupy is either:
a tenancy at will; or
a licence not giving exclusive possession; or
a fixed-term tenancy for a term not exceeding 6 months (and where the same tenant hasn’t been in occupation for more than 12 months)
Automatic protection for tenants
The 1954 Act contains important protections for business tenants, such as the right to:
lawfully remain on the premises on the same terms as their existing lease when it expires and
ask the Court to grant them a new lease if terms cannot be agreed with the landlord (called 'security of tenure').
Commercial landlords may well want to exclude this protection so that they have greater control over what happens on their premises, when a lease term ends.
The 1954 Act protections can only be excluded using a very formal, prescribed procedure involving notices and declarations, designed to ensure that the tenant fully understands the rights that they are giving up.
Basically... the landlord has to produce a formal notice document and:
give it to the tenant, and
the tenant must then sign a formal declaration to confirm that they understand that the 1954 Act protections will not apply to the terms that they sign
The lease must contain the appropriate wording confirming this agreement also
If this process is followed correctly, then the protections set out in the legislation will not apply to the lease and at the end of the term, the tenant must leave the property
It's very common to exclude these terms in a commercial landlord and tenant relationship especially for a lease that's less than 5 years or where a landlord may only have a short-term need to let the premises. It's also very common in sub-leases.
Both landlord and tenant could, of course, subsequently decide that they do in fact want to renew a 'contracted-out' lease. They would then need to document this intention in the form of a new lease.
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