// Moratorium on evicting retailers who can’t pay rent extended until the end of March
// BRC welcomed the move, saying it came “in the nick of time”
// The ban was initially meant to expire at the end of this year
Retailers and other businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March under the “final extension” to the ban.
The retail sector said the announcement on Wednesday came “in the nick of time”, with the moratorium in England having been due to expire at the end of the year.
The real estate industry welcomed the move as the “end of the road” for those that can pay rent but have refused.
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The government said: “This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent.”
Businesses said the next month is key for firms trying to make up on losses during lockdowns in the typically busy Christmas period.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “This news comes in the nick of time for many retailers.
“With footfall down and many stores completely shut in November, many are counting on December sales to claw back some of the lost turnover from this year.
“This extension will give hard-pressed retailers breathing space to trade their way out of rent arrears that may have built up during lockdown.”
British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said the announcement means the government has “confirmed that it is time to plan for the future”.
“Any tenant who has not already engaged with its property owners, and is truly struggling, should now come to the table and be transparent about what they can afford,” she said.
“Equally this announcement signals the end of the road for those who can pay rent, but have so far refused to. The Government has made clear they must now pay their debts.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This 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.”
The evictions ban for household renters is due to end on January 11, leading to concerns of a huge rise in homelessness in the new year.
with PA Wires