The UK Government has announced that the ban on evictions of commercial tenants has been extended for what is said to be one last time until 31st March 2021.

While this will no doubt be welcome relief for many, particularly those in the hospitality sector, many of whom are currently being deprived of vital pre-Christmas income that is usually used to boost their coffers, questions still remain as to whether businesses will have sufficient reserves to pay off accrued debts when that date arrives.

Throughout the pandemic, engagement between landlords and tenants as to the level of rental support or waiver under commercial leases has been mixed: many landlords who are able to afford to do so, have been happy to look at their longer-term relationships and allow delayed payment terms or waivers of rent to assist while others, through necessity or otherwise, have sought to enforce rent payments as per the strict terms of the lease, by any means still available to them.

There is also a concern that many large, profitable businesses who are comfortably able to pay rents have been taking advantage of the moratorium and not been doing so, safe in the knowledge that they cannot be evicted.

In those cases where business are struggling, there has been little (if any) landlord engagement and large arrears have accrued. Query whether they will be able to make enough of pre-Christmas trade to be able to clear their debts before March, particularly if a New Year third lockdown due to Christmas over-indulgence and mingling comes into effect.

According to government commentary, this will be the last extension to the commercial eviction moratorium and I shall therefore be raising a glass, this festive season, to a profitable Christmas trade for those much-loved bars and restaurants and other businesses which have been able to trade... and crossing my fingers for those which have not!