Section 82 of The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into effect last month and has introduced some special measures to protect tenants of commercial premises who are experiencing interruption to their businesses as a result of forced closures, restrictions on trade and social distancing.
The Act has placed restrictions on landlords’ rights to forfeit leases of commercial premises, where a tenant has failed to pay the rent due under the lease, whether the decision for non-payment relates to COVID-19 or not.
The introduction of these special measures apply to all tenants and lawful occupiers of commercial premises (whatever sector they operate in), whether the tenant is permitted to open for business or faces any restrictions on trade, and regardless of the tenant's financial standing and resources.
The restrictions placed on landlords are to remain in place until 30 June 2020, though this period may be extended by the Government.
Although the restrictions in placed are aimed to limit what action a landlord can take during this period, the landlord's right to forfeit for non-payment of rent is reinstated after the restrictions are lifted should rents remain unpaid on or after 1 July 2020.
In the meantime, we will have to wait until 30 June 2020 to have a clearer picture on what the future holds.