The original proposal, which was submitted to the Treasury back in April, called for a nine month rent-free period (from April to December) for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses to provide them with some respite during the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, Downey’s new proposal asks for a 12-month #NationalTimeOut (covering four rent quarters from 25 March 2020 to 24 March 2021) that would be comprised of a rent-free period whilst a business is closed, moving to a turnover rent once it is open again.
Under the plans, Downey says every hospitality and leisure tenant would be entitled (though not obliged) to claim a rent-free period for the entire time their business was forced to close as a result of the pandemic.
This would include if Government-mandated social distancing requirements made it impossible to open again.
The rent-free period would cover a maximum of three rent quarters over the course of nine months, and end on 24 December 2020.
If a business had partially reopened to offer takeaway and delivery during the lockdown, the rent-free period would be limited to the number of weeks hospitality venues had been ordered to close by the Government which, based on current plans, would equal a rent-free period of just over three months.
At present, Government guidance suggests some hospitality businesses could be allowed to reopen on 4 July, although it was reported yesterday (8 June) that ministers could be aiming to accelerate those plans as fears of mass unemployment within the sector continue to grow.
For those businesses able to reopen when the hospitality lockdown is officially lifted, tenants would either pay either a turnover rent for the duration of the #NationalTimeOut; or a reduced rate of the prevailing rent under the relevant lease.
Under the proposals, Downey suggests the landlord decides which of the two applies; and that tenants would be able to decide whether or not they wish to participate in the scheme, or choose to reach their own private rent agreements.
As well as a #NationalTimeOut, Downey added on Twitter yesterday that it was also crucial for the Government to extend the lease forfeiture moratorium on commercial rents beyond the end of June.
“We need longer than to 30 June to agree a #NationalTimeOut,” he wrote.
“I've always thought the lease forfeiture moratorium – the ceasefire - would be extended to 30 September. There are just 23 days until 01 July when landlords begin their land grab, changing locks. We need more time.
“My question to Government is: WTF is happening with extending the lease forfeiture moratorium? Just tell us something.
“Nothing matters more in hospitality right now. It's the entire difference between keeping going and shutting up shop. So many livelihoods depend on this.”