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ukactive welcomes the measures announced by the Government yesterday (23 April) designed to protect businesses from aggressive rent collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 On 13 April, ukactive made an urgent call for the Government to restrict tactics being adopted by landlords who are coercing gyms and leisure centres into paying rent that has been withheld as a result of COVID-19.

Thanks to the support and evidence we received from ukactive members, we were able to present the case to Government, showing the undue pressures from many landlords who have not been acting in the spirit of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and have been taking advantage of loopholes in the system.

While some landlords have engaged constructively with tenants to find solutions that work for both parties, our evidence showed a growing number of cases where the reaction of landlords has been to instigate legal proceedings against operators when rent cannot be paid. 

The support announced yesterday from the Government will be reassuring to many of our members at this challenging time.

The measures announced by the Government include:

  • Statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants to be temporarily voided and changes to be made to the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery, building on measures already introduced in the Coronavirus Act.
  • Landlords and investors are asked to work collaboratively with high street businesses unable to pay their bills during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Government to introduce temporary new measures to safeguard the UK high street against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new legislation will be in force until 30 June, and can be extended in line with the moratorium on commercial lease forfeiture. We look forward to finding out further details as the amended Coronavirus Bill receives royal assent.

ukactive remains committed to working with the Government and our partner sectors to ensure that further support is provided on remaining issues such as access to funding and addressing overheads and utilities payments.