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Options for Landlords following lifting of moratorium

Options for Landlords following lifting of moratorium
Options for Landlords following lifting of moratorium

Following the lifting of this years’ moratorium on forfeiture for commercial rent arrears, many landlords are once again able to use various methods in order either regain possession or recoup what they owe from tenants.

Whilst many landlords may be eager to press ahead with their chosen strategy, it is important to note that the below methods continue to be restricted where the arrears owed satisfy the definition of “protected rent debt” under the recently enacted Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act (the Act). The Act makes clear that any disputes over “protected rent debt” must be settled using the binding arbitration scheme established by the Act. We would therefore recommend that landlords carefully consider the extent to which the sums they are owed fall within the scope of the Act before taking any further action.

The options available to landlords are as follows:

Forfeiture

  • Landlords are now able to forfeit the lease for any “unprotected” arrears which remain outstanding. If the tenant owes both protected and unprotected arrears, landlords will need to be clear which debt they are relying on when exercising their right to forfeit.
  • Landlords should also take note that the lifting of the moratorium has also removed the protections from waiving the right to forfeit. Those considering forfeiture should therefore take care not to act in any way which affirms that the lease is continuing and could constitute a waiver of the right to forfeit.

CRAR

  • As an alternative to forfeiting the lease, landlords can use the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) procedure to seize tenant’s goods and sell them to recover any unprotected arears owed.
  • Since June 2021, landlords were prevented from using this statutory procedure unless a sum equal to at least 554 days’ rent was owed. However, the minimum amount outstanding before a landlord can exercise CRAR has now reverted to pre-pandemic levels and is the equivalent of 7 days’ unprotected rent debt rent.

Winding up petitions

  • Restrictions on the issue of winding-up petitions were imposed under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. Following a previous extension, these restrictions are due to end on 31 March 2022. As a result, from this date commercial landlords will once again be able to issue statutory demands and present winding up petitions against companies owing unprotected rent debt.
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