Thought leadership

Food firms have written to the government asking for support as a stand-off with landlords looms over rent holidays. Companies such as Deliveroo called for a targeted extension of the commercial evictions ban, which was introduced at the height of the pandemic.

Revo, which represents landlords, said well-known firms were “getting away with not paying their rent”.

The government said it was “working closely” with landlords and tenants. In April the government introduced a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent, which was then extended until 30 September.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chief executives of these firms called for a targeted extension of the rent holiday for restaurants in city centres and for those in areas under lockdown.

“There is a critical risk that many restaurants will face eviction proceedings from 1 October,” the signatories said.

The bosses, including Will Shu of Deliveroo, Alasdair Murdoch, the UK chief executive of Burger King, and Julian Metcalfe of Itsu, also said landlords should not be able to claim full back-rent when the moratorium ends.

Instead, rent arrears repayments should be spread across 12 months, they said.

of Deliveroo was one of the signatories of the letter

“From our experiences of negotiations with landlords, around 30% have indicated their intention to evict, issue final demands for full payment, or otherwise indicated they will not support any restructure of Covid-19-incurred rent debt,” the signatories said.

In addition, they asked for tax breaks for empty properties to be changed to discourage evictions.

But Revo, an industry body for commercial landlords, said: “The blanket moratorium means strongly backed, well known High Street companies are getting away with not paying their rent.”

Vivienne King, chief executive of Revo, said that “this is at the cost of vulnerable occupiers, since the revenue shortfall makes it that much harder for property owners to support those occupiers in genuine need.”

She added that any extensions to rent holidays should not be funded by the private sector.

“The moratoria were meant to be short-term, emergency measures to protect businesses at a time when they could not trade. They too have served their purpose,” she said.

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