Proplend chief Brian Bartaby has backed calls from the British Property Federation (BPF) for an end to the rent moratorium the government introduced at the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
The BPF has written to business secretary Alok Sharma asking for an end to the moratorium which was introduced in March to prevent landlords from evicting clients for not paying their rent for 90 days. The scheme was recently extended until the end of September.
With billions of pounds in rent believed to be deferred or waived and the ban due to end soon, it is understood that ministers will decide this week whether to extend the rent moratorium even further.
According to The Times, Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, has accused “large, financially sophisticated and well-capitalised businesses” of not paying their rent to improve their liquidity and thereby abusing the moratorium.
In July, Brian Bartaby, founder and chief executive of commercial property peer-to-peer lender Proplend, told Peer2Peer Finance News that the government should scrap its “unfair” moratorium of commercial property rents.
And he has now backed BPF’s calls for the moratorium to end, claiming it’s unfair against landlords where there are potentially tenants that aren’t paying their rent on the basis of knowing the moratorium is in place.
“There are obviously tenants unable to afford their rent but also tenants using it as an excuse not to make their rental payments,” he said.
“There have definitely been well capitalised companies taking advantage of the moratorium and not paying their rent, such as Burger King. If they extend the moratorium, they need to come up with something to counter it.”
In August, Bartaby welcomed a proposal for a scheme where the government pays up to 50 per cent of the rent and service charges owed by businesses which have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic for the six months between March and September.
It was revealed that trade associations, including the BPF, have been in talks with ministers for a property bounceback grant for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, which have been hardest hit by the crisis.
However, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, called for an extension to the rent moratorium to support businesses and prevent job losses.
“Some retailers are unable to pay their rent, debts are piling up and the survival of much-loved brands is at stake,” said Dickinson.
“In the absence of an alternative solution, the government should extend the moratorium on aggressive landlord debt enforcement.
“Without action, the job losses we have seen across the industry over the last month will be the tip of the iceberg.”