Restaurants demand protection from landlords as deadline looms

Linda J. Dodson

Hundreds of restaurants will be at risk of bankruptcy within days unless landlords are banned from calling in debts, industry chiefs have warned.

Hospitality bosses want ministers to introduce a debt enforcement moratorium to help dispel fears landlords will begin issuing commercial tenants with winding-up petitions this week, which could force them to go bust.

Many pubs and restaurants withheld rental payments during the last quarter payday on March 25 as sites remain shut. Last month the Government banned landlords from evicting tenants if they miss rent payments during the lockdown. However, this does not prevent property firms from demanding money through enforcement action. A moratorium is likely to infuriate landlords who rely on rental income to pay down their own debt.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph in late March, Chris Grigg, chief executive of British Land, warned landlords could “absolutely not” go on indefinitely. He said: “No system can forgo rent or income indefinitely.”

Commercial tenants have a seven-day breathing period after a missed payment until a landlord is able to issue a statutory demand. After 21 days has passed following a statutory demand, landlords can move to issuing a winding-up order, which could lead to firms’ assets and bank accounts being frozen.

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