An army of bailiffs has been put on standby by the UK’s largest landlords as they expect a raft of retailers will fail to have funds in their bank on Christmas Eve to meet their quarterly rent deadline on December 25.

Landlords are understood to be contacting some troubled retailers to remind them to make the necessary banking arrangements for the due date, while putting contingency plans in place.

A source close to one landlord said: “There will be a lot of activity from the week beginning December 29 to chase up payments and landlords won’t go into that week without back-up options. It would be remiss of the quoted property companies not to do this and take precautions at this time.”

One bailiff told Retail Week that landlords have put them on standby from the first working Monday after Christmas and that they “will be working bet-ween Christmas and new year”.

The ratcheting up of payment conditions by landlords signals the seriousness with which landlords regard late payments.

Another landlord said he would take a “firm and commercial line”, but was prepared to be reasonable with retailers in genuine trouble that engage in open talks. He said: “We actively engage with our retailers. Those that act in an open manner get a fair hearing.”

Another landlord said he was considering contingency plans including allowing retailers to pay half their rent, provided they pay the balance within a month.

British Land director Andrew Jones said: “We will continue to be flexible and pragmatic.”

A Land Securities spokesman said: “We have got a good relationship with our retailers. They are aware of their obligations and we will work with everyone.”