Real estate – the impact of coronavirus

Read our latest guidance for landlords and construction businesses following the latest government guidance around coronavirus.

On 25 May 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the forced closure of non-essential shops will end on 15 June 2020. For retail and commercial tenants that remain affected by the pandemic, it will be more difficult (but not impossible) to request a rent suspension.

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Given the magnitude of economic uncertainty resulting from Covid-19, landlords have been dealing with a flurry of requests from their tenants asking for assistance in mitigating their liability for rent.

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With COVID-19  impacting on every aspect of the UK economy, we consider the potential issues for commercial landlords and property investors. In particular, what happens to the liabilities under a lease if the tenant is forced to close their premises or if a landlord is required to close a multi-let building, business park, shopping centre or retail park?

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Cripps Pemberton Greenish and leading tenant advisor DeVono Cresa have co-authored this paper to highlight the material disconnect between legal obligations contained in leases and the current extreme circumstances we are facing. 

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The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) became law on 25 March 2020. Section 82 of the Act contains a three month moratorium on landlords’ ability to forfeit leases of commercial property on the basis of non-payment of rent or any other sums due under the lease. 

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On 14 May 2020 the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the introduction of temporary regulations, together with updated guidance, to smooth the planning process further by reflecting the new socially distanced world.

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The Planning system has so far only adapted in a few areas in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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The effects of the current pandemic on construction projects put us in an unprecedented situation, so whilst we summarise below the general principles that are likely to apply under a standard JCT contract, it is unfamiliar territory and will likely lead to some novel situations. 

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