Wales extends lease forfeiture moratorium

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Wales extends lease forfeiture moratorium as calls continue to grow for permanent solution to the rent debt.

Related tags Rent arrears Coronavirus Restaurant Rent

The Welsh Government has extended the lease forfeiture moratorium until the end of June, as calls continue to grow for a permanent solution to the hospitality sector's growing rent debt.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates confirmed the protection, which prevents landlords from repossessing commercial premises if businesses are unable to pay their rent as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, would not expire on 31 March as planned.

Pressure is likely to now grow on the Government in England to follow suit.

It has previously been reported​ that ministers in Westminster are drawing up plans to extend the lease forfeiture moratorium​​, but this is yet to be confirmed.

The Welsh Government said the move 'will help ease the burden on a range of sectors, including hospitality, at what continues to be an incredibly challenging period of time'.

“The past year has placed untold pressures on our firms and our people as we deal with coronavirus and that is why we have moved at pace to support the business community through the pandemic with a package worth in excess of £2bn," said Skates.

“[This] announcement of the extension of measures to prevent forfeiture for the non-payment of rent builds on that and is crucial in protecting businesses from eviction and securing jobs and livelihoods over the coming months.

“We will continue to do all that we can to help them through these incredibly challenging times.”

Trade body UKHospitality Cymru welcomed the extension, but added that a permanent solution to the growing rent debt being amassed by businesses was still needed.

“An extension to the moratorium is a positive and pragmatic move by the Welsh Government," says David Chapman, UKHospitality Cymru executive director.

"Many valuable hospitality businesses across Wales have piled up huge levels of rent debt over the past year which will be a barrier to viability as they look to reopen.

“Rent debt levels have spiralled to unmanageable levels for too many businesses through no fault of their own. Businesses have been forcibly closed or operating under the most severe restrictions for a year. All the while, they have had to continue to meet costs and rent has remained a very significant one.

“Although some landlords have been helpful and engaged with tenants, the crisis has escalated for many businesses. The spectre of rent debt continues to loom over the sector even as we begin to prepare for our reopening.

“The extension to the moratorium will give us valuable breathing space, but we will still need a permanent solution to the problem.”

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