Code of Practice for Commercial Property Relationships during the Covid-19 Pandemic


A new Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic was published by the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, on 19 June 2020.  It can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-for-the-commercial-property-sector/code-of-practice-for-commercial-property-relationships-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

 

Helpfully, this Code of Practice is expressly stated to apply to Northern Ireland too.  Unhelpfully, it is only a voluntary code and does not change the underlying legal relationship between landlord and tenant and any guarantor.  It is a rallying call promoting the ideal of collaboration between all players in the commercial real estate world.  Truthfully, it’s hard to see how it could have been anything more.  There are many different interests to be balanced.  No one-size-fits-all approach could be deployed.  Not all tenants are in dire straits due to lockdown restrictions; not all landlords are large institutions with deep pockets; and not all lenders have their eye on the prize of swift economic recovery to buoy the markets for the masses.

 

Government won’t therefore mandate how any grant funding should be utilised. Costs will be prioritised differently between one business and another.  The Code of Practice recognises that rent is just one of these costs.

 

As a result, the voluntary Code of Practice is constrained to set out a series of principles and options which parties should consider.  Ultimately, however, there is no escaping the fact that the lease governs the obligations between the landlord and tenant.  Strive for reasonable negotiation; but launch your discussions from the sure footedness of understanding your legal position.

 

If you require any assistance please contact Joe by email joe.moore@tughans.com or speak with your usual Tughans contact who will refer you to a member of the Tughans Real Estate team.


While great care has been taken in the preparation of the content of this article, it does not purport to be a comprehensive statement of the relevant law and full professional advice should be taken before any action is taken in reliance on any item covered.