An update: Further changes to landlords’ remedies for recovering commercial rent arrears
Two of the classic self-help remedies open to landlords for recovering commercial rent arrears have traditionally been forfeiture and Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR), but both of these have been restricted as a result of Government measures to support tenants during the coronavirus crisis.
Amended CRAR Regulations
The Regulations originally changing the use of CRAR came into force on 24 April and apply to enforcement action taken under that process.
The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 provided three key changes (although only the first is really headline grabbing):
- An increase of the threshold before CRAR can be exercised in the first place – from 7 days’ rent arrears to 90 days, for enforcement notices given between 25 April and 30 June 2020;
- An extension, in certain circumstances, to the date by which an enforcement agent must have taken control of goods if the notice of enforcement is not to lapse; and
- An extension of the 2 year enforcement certificate that enforcement agents must hold in order to act in that capacity (again, in certain circumstances).
However, there were further amendments introduced for the June quarter day 2020. The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 provided:-
- The threshold before CRAR can be exercised was increased from 90 days to 189 days’ rent arrears for enforcement notices given between 24 June and 30 September 2020;
- The restrictions on taking control of goods at premises which include a dwelling-house and goods which are found on the highway (and on the premises which an enforcement agent may not enter, re-enter or remain) were extended both in their remit and time period (such that those restrictions did not expire until 23 August 2020); and
- There was a further extension to the validity period of the enforcement certificate that enforcement agents must hold.
The position has now been amended again.
Accordingly, before a landlord can exercise CRAR, the rent arrears must be a minimum of 276 days’ rent (for notices served between 29 September 2020 and 24 December 2020) and 366 days (for notices served from 25 December 2020). The same limits apply to taking control of goods for the first time pursuant to a valid enforcement notice.
At this point, the extended restrictions will apply until 31 March 2021. As with all Covid-19 related legislation, there is the potential that the restrictions could be further extended in due course although the government appears reluctant to do so (see here).
Update on forfeiture moratorium
Ever since the Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 25 March 2020, a moratorium has been in place preventing the forfeiture of commercial leases for unpaid rent. This has now been extended to 31 March 2021. Click here to read the full article.
This does not affect the ability of landlords to take steps as a prelude to forfeiture in connection with other breaches of covenant, e.g. subletting, disrepair etc. Section 146 Notices in respect of such breaches remain a valid approach in the enforcement armoury open to landlords. However, the practical impact of such an approach is severely limited by the ongoing forfeiture restrictions.
News & Insights
Charles Russell Speechlys releases H2 2020 deal highlights
Our highlights over the past 6 months are now available.
Haliburton v Chubb: The final say on an arbitrator’s duty of disclosure
We consider some of the key points when appointed arbitrators do not agree on the appointment of the third arbitrator as chairman.
Understanding Rules of Origin under the Brexit Agreement
The UK-EU TCA came into effect on 31st December 2020, what does it mean for importers and exporters? and what does Rules of Origin mean?