Coronavirus - support for businesses and employers
Rent support for businesses and insurance cover
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction. These measures, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through Parliament, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months.
The change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent. It will last until 30th June 2020, with an option for the government to extend if needed.
On 23rd April 2020 the Business Secretary outlined measures to protect the UK high street from aggressive rent collection:
- Shops and other companies under strain will be asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic.
- To stop unfair tactics by some landlord on rent collection, the government will temporarily ban the use of statutory demands (from 1 March-30 June 2020) and winding up petitions from 27th April – 30th June, where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus.
- Government is also laying secondary legislation to provide tenants with more breathing space to pay rent preventing landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery unless they are owed 90 days of unpaid rent.
Businesses that have cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered, as the government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs and theatres is sufficient to make a claim.
Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.