Big retail landlords seek end-of-year deadline for payment arrears
Enough is enough. Two of the UK’s biggest commercial property companies don’t want to be hanging around at year-end waiting for retailers to pay outstanding rents.
British Land and Land Securities (Landsec) have called for a six-month time limit for landlords and tenants to settle billions of pounds of arrears after restrictions on rent collection end in June, according to The Times newspaper.
The companies, which own shopping centres including Broadgate and Meadowhall for the former and Bluewater for the latter, said that with normal market conditions returning after lockdowns end, rent payments should resume from the next quarter.
“This reflects not only a vital step towards restoring normal market conditions, but also the strength of trading that many brands have seen since the third lockdown began to lift,” the landlords said in a joint statement.
Mark Allan, chief executive of Land Securities, added: “We have seen retailers and restaurant operators report trading close to 2019 levels, so there is no reason why these businesses shouldn’t be able to meet their rental obligations”.
Made in response to a government consultation, the landlords propose that all parties would have until December to come up with repayment plans for rent debts accrued since the start of the pandemic.
Commercial property owners have been banned from evicting tenants that do not pay rent or pursuing them with aggressive rent collection tactics for more than a year.
However, retail and hospitality groups also raised concerns about the proposal. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, told the Times it was “unrealistic” to expect hospitality businesses to pay their rent in full from June.
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