// The government has been criticised for extending the current rent moratorium on commercial properties
// The British Property Federation had called for an end to the ban on June 30
// Property owners have lost over £6bn since the government launched a ban on evictions and winding-up petitions in March last year
Retail property owners have criticised the government’s decision to extend the current rent moratorium on commercial properties, protecting tenants from eviction to March next year.
While retailers and hospitality groups can pay bonuses and dividends — and from next month will start paying business rates on their premises — property companies cannot force them to pay their rent.
Most smaller tenants have been supported by landlords or have paid rent, while retailers including Boots, Superdrug, JD Sports and H&M have taken advantage of the legislation to defer payments.
The British Property Federation, the industry’s principal lobby group, had called for an end to the ban on June 30.
It argued that businesses continued to exploit the moratoriums and pay no rent at the expense of the local authorities.
Since the government launched a ban on evictions and winding-up petitions in March last year, property owners have lost more than £6 billion, or £1 in every £6 of rent due, according to Remit Consulting.
Landsec and British Land’s respective chief executives Mark Allan and Simon Carter came up with a proposal for resolving the £6 billion rent problem after teaming up.
They suggested that rent arrears built up during the pandemic should be ring-fenced and landlords and tenants should be given six months to agree a plan for paying them back before entering into a binding arbitration.
Carter and Allan said the announcement was “disappointing” and would “divert investment from our high streets”.