The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to extend the moratorium on commercial evictions for businesses below 30% of normal levels.

The business lobbying group called on the government to let the commercial evictions ban expire on June 30, but advocated extending targeted support for businesses in sectors like hospitality and theatres until the end of the year. 

However, by basing any extension on the basis of lost revenue rather than sector, the CBI argues that businesses supplying those struggling companies will also be helped. 

The CBI also said that unpaid commercial rents accrued up until June 30 should be ringfenced and “negotiated separately between occupiers and landlords”. 

Finally, the group called on the government to “set out principles for binding arbitration on rent debt” and to “ensure there is a mechanism to deliver decisions where negotiations fail or businesses refrain from negotiating”.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “With the success of the UK’s vaccine programme, a watchful easing of social restrictions and business confidence growing, now is the time to optimise commercial property interventions towards getting all parts of the economy back to business.

“The blanket government protections for non-payment of commercial rents should be lifted. While some sectors remain heavily restricted or fully closed, ongoing protections should be targeted towards the firms most at risk in these sectors.

“The conversation about commercial rent debt needs to be dealt with separately. There is a huge deficit in unpaid commercial rents, which both tenants and landlords acknowledge is unlikely to be fully recovered.

“The majority of tenants and landlords have already come together for adult-to-adult conversations to settle commercial rent arrears; those businesses yet to enter into negotiations should now do so and work hard to reach an agreement, or risk court decisions that may be less favourable.”

The proposals are the latest trying to address what has become an increasingly thorny issue between retailers and landlords during the pandemic. 

Between retail, hospitality, leisure and entertainment occupiers, an estimated £6bn has accrued in unpaid rent since the beginning of the pandemic and the government has been canvassing for solutions to navigate the crisis. 

Its call for evidence on the subject closed in April and it is due to announce next steps before the June 30 deadline.

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