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Managing Director of Commercial Plus, Barry Frost, wrote the following article for independent store owners and tenants who are struggling to pay their rent and keep their businesses afloat amid Covid-19.

Lockdown

As England prepares to enter its second lockdown and retailers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland face their own restrictions, unfortunately, many landlords still haven’t grasped the severity of the situation that their tenants are in as a result of Covid-19. Thousands of independent retail businesses are currently fighting for survival and must act now, to protect their stores and livelihoods.

Tenants – Act Now

The commercial property industry must adapt to the ongoing pandemic and economic climate. Now, more than ever, landlords and tenants need one another, and both parties must come up with an amicable solution when tenants are unable to pay their entire rent due to Covid-19. However, many landlords that I have spoken simply can’t, or won’t, adopt a new approach to help their tenants during hardship. As the legal tools that landlords previously used to deal with tenants in arrears have been removed by the government for the foreseeable, both parties must negotiate between one another. If you are currently unable to pay your entire rent:

  • Contact your landlord or agent without delay and explain your exact circumstances
  • Ask for help and a temporary rent-free period, or request a period of at least 6 months at a maximum of 50% rent, payable monthly. Remember, as things stand, business rates will be payable again from 1st April 2021
  • If you are asked for documentation, such as bank statements, to back up what you are saying, provide it. However, only documentation from since the start of Covid-19 is relevant.
  • Ignore demands and any heavy-handed communication that threatens to escalate matters. Landlords cannot do anything as things stand now
  • Be civil and honest, no matter how aggressive or unhelpful you think the landlord may be behaving. Remember, they also have loans and bills to pay
  • Ask for any discussions over things like lease renewals, rent reviews, or the repayment of arrears or deferred rent to be delayed until things start to improve. None of us know how things will be in 6 month’s time, so discussing those topics now will only cause additional stress.

Borrowers

If you or your business have loans or debt of any kind, take advantage of repayment holidays, interest only periods and anything else that is offered to help save money and improve cash flow. If doing so delays the repayment of a debt, so be it. If you have already had a repayment holiday, simply request another. Remember, you won’t get help if you don’t ask for it! Also, look at all of your business’s outgoings and either reduce or defer anything that you can. To help save money and improve cash flow during Covid-19:

  • Contact your bank, all will help (in my experience) if asked
  • Keep communicating with all creditors and don’t bury your head
  • Take advantage of any and all loan deferments or interest only periods
  • Don’t be frightened to ask for help more than once
  • Reduce all overheads where possible

If you are an NFRN member, you are entitled to one hour of free advice from Commercial Plus on any commercial property or finance issue, so please do not hesitate to call me.

Call now on 01244 659101

Email now – barry.frost@commercialplus.co.uk

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