Coronavirus

UKH: New rent moratoria will help avoid ‘immediate bloodbath’

The recent extension to the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratoria will help avoid an “immediate bloodbath” of business failures across hospitality, but it must be accompanied by support to resolve Covid-related rent debt, UKHospitality has warned.

The trade body has welcomed today’s announcement by communities secretary Robert Jenrick that it will be extended until March 2021, but warned that financial support will “still be necessary”.

It added that landlords will need to be brought to the table, in order to find a solution and prevent “widespread business failures”, with the alternative being a “calamity of evictions” on 1 April.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it is a “very welcome respite” and will be “crucial in ensuring that more businesses do not fall off an immediate cliff edge”.

She said: “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. 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.”

She added: “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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