Press Releases

09 Apr 2021

British Property Federation launches ‘call to arms’ property owner campaign for Government commercial rents Call for Evidence

The British Property Federation (BPF) launches today a new national campaign to raise awareness among commercial property owners of the Government’s recently published Commercial rents and Covid-19 Call for Evidence

The campaign will provide the Government with further evidence of the extensive support being provided to tenants and the pressure this continues to exert on property owners of all sizes.

The BPF urges all commercial property owners – whether an individual with one commercial unit or a business with multiple units – to sign up on the campaign website.

The Government consultation ends on 4 May 2021 – and it will use the evidence to inform whether to extend still further the ban on evictions, statutory demands and winding up petitions (the moratoria), and how discussions on dealing with unpaid commercial rent should be managed.

Commercial property owners’ contractual rights have been suspended for over a year and this Call for Evidence is a critical opportunity to tell the full story of the impact on property owners – from large businesses to individuals – across the country.

The Government’s Code of Practice makes clear that tenants who can afford to do so, should pay their rent and other charges. Where support is needed, tenants must seek agreement with property owners and be prepared to provide financial information to demonstrate clearly why this support is required.

Commercial property owners are supporting tenants in genuine distress – with rent write-offs, holidays, deferrals and new payment plans – but this has meant absorbing significant losses in rental income, with little or no direct support from the Government.

High streets have been at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Enforced store closures for non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure have brought genuine economic hardship, but the blanket moratoria are giving tenants in all sectors – including offices and industrial – the ability to withhold rent and, in some cases, to refuse to engage at all with their property owner.

The exploitation of commercial property owners – including the millions of pensioners and savers invested in commercial property – must end.

UK property investment, which plays a vital role in supporting businesses and creating thriving communities and will be pivotal to town centre recovery from the impact of Covid-19, depends on this.

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation comments:

“It is vitally important that property owners large and small respond to the Government’s Call for Evidence – reporting on the wide range of ways in which they are supporting tenants – from rent freezes, waivers and referrals to more flexible payment plans. Equally, some property owners have had no income for over a year and the Call for Evidence provides them with an opportunity to make sure the Government understands the hardship this is causing small businesses, pensioners and savers.

“The BPF intends to act as a channel for the whole property sector to unite and speak.

“No rational property owner will want to see failing businesses – and it makes little sense, after over a year of support, to let tenants fall at this final hurdle as our high streets re-open. With many outdoor eating areas fully booked up for months on end, significant consumer demand should give both tenants and property owners the confidence today to forge a more positive future together.

“The Government, however, cannot allow this scandal of tenants who can but won’t pay rent to continue.”

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