workers on strike, confronting manager, commercial rent freeze concept

Cannot pay, will not pay: what are your choices when asking for a business lease freeze

The coronavirus pandemic is totally unprecedented and brings with it distinctive and far-reaching points for each business tenants and landlords to navigate. Many small enterprise homeowners have already written to landlords asking for a business lease freeze whereas the pandemic goes on.

Can I’m going on a lease strike?

Many companies will need to know what their rights are in a scenario the place they’re prevented from opening enterprise attributable to an “act of God” or power majeure. Can they unilaterally freeze lease funds the place they’re shut down, whether or not by way of enforced workers absence or official decree, as we now have seen this week throughout the leisure and hospitality business?

>See additionally: Authorities launches enterprise Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

What if the federal government forces my small enterprise to shut?

As a place to begin, within the absence of particular contractual provisions, there isn’t any widespread legislation proper to incorporate a deemed “power majeure” provision within the lease doc. Industrial leases typically include lease suspension provisions for injury to property arising out of sure specified dangers, however these lease suspension provisions don’t usually prolong to cowl enforced closure of retail or different models pursuant to statutory powers.

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Due to this fact, within the absence of a particular power majeure clause within the lease or a statutory provision on the contrary, the tenant is contractually obliged to proceed paying lease – even when their doorways are pressured to shut, ending enterprise as standard and rendering them unable to make these funds.

What about ‘derogation of grant’?

The tenant’s solely potential authorized problem could possibly be to argue “derogation of grant.” Nonetheless, that widespread legislation proper is often solely accessible in conditions the place the owner has acted in a method which considerably compromises a profit granted to the tenant within the lease doc. In industries like leisure and hospitality, which have been pressured to shut shops and business premises by authorities order, it might maybe be too far a leap to put the blame on the toes of the owner.

See additionally: The best way to get the federal government’s £10,000 money grant for small companies

What about enterprise interruption insurance coverage?

One of the best plan of action for companies is to seek the advice of their enterprise interruption insurance coverage if they’ve it, and naturally offering it covers this sort of scenario, which it might nicely not. Present enterprise interruption insurance coverage insurance policies might have a further ailments clause – normally solely taken out by bigger corporations – and, in any case, as a result of Covid-19 is a certainty it can’t be deemed a threat and so insurers is not going to pay out.

Negotiating a business lease freeze

Whereas the tenant isn’t in a very sturdy place within the absence of specific wording within the lease, landlords are going through their very own pressures and will probably be eager to undertake a business strategy.

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A tenant doesn’t change into a “dangerous tenant” in a single day, so if the owner feels that the occupier is ready to climate the storm, they’ll at the very least have a tenant in place as soon as we do attain calmer waters. The choice for the owner is forfeiting and risking an empty unit which they’re unable to fill for the foreseeable future.

Open and sincere dialogue is one of the simplest ways ahead for each landlords and tenants.

Simon Maddox is an actual property associate at JMW Solicitors

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