Opinion

The rent moratorium buys us some time. Now to work out what to do next

By Jonathan Downey

- Last updated on GMT

The hospitality rent moratorium buys us some time. Now to work out what to do next coronavirus

Related tags: Coronavirus, Restaurant

The forfeiture moratorium buys the industry time, but more needs to be done to help the hospitality sector.

Last week I proposed that the Government introduce a forfeiture moratorium to stop landlords from repossessing commercial premises if businesses are unable to pay their rent when the quarterly rent period came up, which is today (25 March).

It has listened and this will become legislation tomorrow. As a result, business owners will now have some proper time to work out how best to push through this and bounce out the other side.

But I know that it is only a temporary solution. To all the Einsteins telling me that the forfeiture moratorium hasn’t solved the problem, it’s just postponed it, I have this message: STFU.

Don’t you think everyone knows that? The moratorium just buys us some priceless time (possibly six months) to work out what we do next. And we are working out what we do next.

And when we’ve got some good ideas and a plan, I will share them with the industry and we will all try and work together to get the best result we can for everyone.

My first thought is that we need to see a Government-supported rent-free period of six months and possibly until the end of the year, but I have no idea yet what the financial cost of this might be or even if it is achievable.

Getting a moratorium into UK legislation in just 13 days from first proposal, was fucking easy compared to what we need to get next.

I spent most of yesterday angry and smashing things because they’ve got the drafting wrong in the moratorium legislation and this is going to cause some problems for some tenants (those with the shittiest landlords).

All of the little issues that they’ve missed could be solved by Government enacting an Enforcement Moratorium, which is number four on my ‘List of Six’ things that the Government needs to do to safeguard the hospitality industry and jobs. This will provide extra protection to everyone and be the real ‘cease fire’ I’ve been advocating.

Anyway, we’re working on that and, in the meantime, I’ve started putting together a list of things you might want to try with your landlord(s). I’ve already been sent some useful thoughts by some senior players and I’m going to get these in to one useful document at some point this week.

However, until you’ve seen that advice, make contact with your landlord, be open and transparent but DO NOT PAY ANY RENT and DO NOT AGREE ANYTHING.

Finally, with so many conflicting views and so much misinformation out there, don’t take everything you read in the press about industry issues as gospel. Unless it’s from me, of course…

Jonathan Downey has created a hospitality WhatsApp Group to keep senior industry people updated on the issues the sector faces in light of the Coronavirus crisis. If you are a hospitality business owner or senior team operator and would like to join please email whyvn@ybaqbahavba.pbz​.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @DowneyJD

Related topics: UnitedWeStand

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