In the last 9 months, our lawyers have helped a range of different businesses navigating through this period of uncertainty and the issue that keeps coming up is rent. Two of our Partners, Richard Holmes & Jonathan Warner-Reed, have been acting on both sides of the fence – for Landlords and for Tenants – and as the media has recently documented tensions rising across the board, we asked them for the position on the ground as they see it.
Richard Holmes commented, “There is no doubt that some businesses have struggled during this time and we have seen first-hand across the public and private sector clients we act for the impact it’s had on the marketplace. As time goes on the possibility of current statutory protections continuing beyond 2020 is real. There’s no doubt that some businesses have benefitted greatly by utilising these rent-free periods as a bargaining tool to improve their positions. However, my advice to tenants is to keep in mind that at some point these will end and any sums due will have to be paid under their tenancy agreement. In terms of rising tensions, it remains true that where possible Landlords and Tenants should try to follow the recommendations in the Code of Practice for commercial property relationships to see if mutually-beneficial resolutions can be found.”
Jonathan Warner-Reed supported Richard’s point, saying, “The legislation is, quite rightly, there to protect tenants in these uncertain times. However, it is not a licence not to pay rent. The frustration for landlords is distinguishing between those tenants who won’t pay and those that genuinely can’t pay. Whilst landlords may have their hands tied at the moment there will come a time when the protection will be lifted and the rent will need to be paid. It would appear that this frustration has boiled over and many landlords are pursuing tenants for rent and obtaining County Court Judgments against them. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to work together to resolve their differences, negotiating and reaching alternative agreements with regard to the payment of rent which strike a balance between their interests.”
At the outset of the pandemic, the Coronavirus Act was introduced to address the threat posed to tenants who could not pay their rent. In recent months this protection of tenants and the indication that they may continue more long term has put landlords at increasing risk. As such, tenants have been asked to acknowledge the risks to landlords and focus on negotiating agreements which take into account the position of both sides. In spite of this, tensions are rising between landlords and tenants and as a result we could see the tables turn sooner or later with greater support to landlords at the detriment of their tenants. It’s more important than ever now that a collaborative not combative approach is taken by both sides to ensure both of their interests are protected long term.
DJB is a national law firm that specialises entirely in real estate. The firm has offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Taunton ensuring truly national coverage.
The firm is renowned for its high quality legal work and service.
We only recruit experienced lawyers with excellent calibre. As a result, our legal team of over 40 lawyers has an average post-qualification experience that exceeds 20 years. Most have joined us from other City firms, in-house departments and/or senior roles. Our lawyers have advised some of the UK’s most significant land owners including Barclays Bank, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Rolls Royce, The Royal Parks, The Cabinet Office and The Crown Estate. This focus on quality only has led to a 50% male and female Partner rate.
All of our clients are provided with a dedicated client care professional at no extra charge, which ensures that they receive the highest standard of service at all times.
DJB is regularly selected to advise on high profile projects such as the hosting of the London 2012 Olympic Games by The Royal Parks and the first Sukuk Bond to be entered into by a Western Government on behalf of HM Treasury. Based in London at The Shard and also Manchester, Birmingham and Taunton, DJB has a national presence.
The firm enjoys top tier rankings in all of the main directories, as well as receiving many awards.