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Night time businesses face eviction in the new year without further government action, says NTIA

By | Published on Wednesday 9 December 2020

Night Time Industries Association

The Night Time Industries Association has called on the UK government to extend temporary COVID-19 restrictions on landlords evicting businesses from commercial property, adding that a more long term solution is also required.

As part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in March, landlords in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were temporarily prevented from forfeiting commercial leases where the leaseholders were in rents arrears. Initially, this measure was put in place until 30 Jun, but as it became apparent that the pandemic would be affecting businesses for longer than initially feared, it was extended to the end of this year.

Now, of course, the end of the year is fast approaching, and, says the NTIA, nearly 80% of night-time businesses are more than six months in arrears on their rent, with no hope of making up that shortfall in the next three weeks. This puts those bars, clubs, music venues and other companies at risk of being evicted from their premises in January.

“Given the time constraints, and the lack of a robust solution to the rising commercial rent issue, the extension of the ‘forfeiture moratorium’ is now critical to the survival of many businesses”, says NTIA CEO Michael Kill.

“Owners are losing their business properties through no fault of their own, exposing themselves to personal guarantees, walking away with debts that they are unable to pay back”, he adds. “Thousands of viable businesses are being pushed over the edge, and with that their workforce. The government must also consider that these important cultural and social hubs of communities will be lost forever”.

“Each stakeholder needs to share some of the financial burden, and with this recognise a code of conduct which is part voluntary, part mandatory to ensure that businesses, landlords and financial services act appropriately within the ongoing negotiations on rent and mortgages during this very difficult period”, he goes on. “The industry is crying out for a clear roadmap and exit strategy, allowing them to plan financially, and with this the ability to pay rent once the doors are back open”.

UPDATE, 9 Dec 2020, 11.16am: Shortly after publishing this story it was announced that the ‘forfeiture moratorum’ had been extended to March 2021.

In a statement, NTIA CEO Michael Kill says: “The extension of the forfeiture moratorium until March 2021 has been welcomed by businesses which have been under an immense amount of pressure financially, but still does not address the underlying issues of rent arrears and ongoing rent solution”.