To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the 19 June 2020 voluntary code of practice for commercial property relationships, if he will take steps to create a mandatory framework in line with the principles in the code to protect businesses with landlords who do not engage voluntarily.
Our commercial property sector is respected across the world and has attracted record international investment in recent years. It acts as a foundation of our economy, providing our businesses with space to operate even as their needs change. Likewise, commercial landlords rely on a vibrant and growing business community to occupy their properties.
The code of practice will help all parties to work together to protect viable businesses and ensure a swift recovery. It will encourage fair and transparent discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the coronavirus pandemic and provides guidance on rent arrear payments. This will enable collaboration and cooperation within the sector and help ensure they come to a mutually beneficial agreement; ensuring that best practice becomes common practice.
The code will apply across the UK and is intended to provide guidance to the sector as it adjusts to the impacts of the coronavirus. It encourages landlords to provide support to businesses if they are able to do so, and urges tenants to continue to pay their rent in full if they are in a position to do so and advises that others should pay what they can. This will help ensure no one part of the chain shoulders the full burden of payment and will give businesses and landlords certainty on what to expect during this time.
The code is voluntary for businesses and is relevant to all commercial leases held by businesses in any sector which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. However, government retains the right to make further mandatory provisions if necessary.
Government will continue to keep its package of interventions under review to ensure we are supporting our economy through the current period.