The trade body has written to the government calling for more support of hospitality businesses after landlord retaliation during the covid-19 crisis
It is calling for an immediate extension of the forfeiture moratorium (this prevents landlords from using forfeiture clauses to terminate leases for the next three months where the tenant cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus) for six months, as well as the widening of the scope to protect businesses from legal sanctions from commercial landlords.
Broader debt enforcement measures, such as winding-up orders, statutory demands and commercial rent arrears recovery, have all been cited.
'We urgently need action from the government to provide legal protection for businesses,' said UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. 'The moratorium on evictions of commercial tenants announced last week does not go far enough, we need a full rental debt enforcement moratorium.
'Rather than use this as an opportunity to work with businesses to investigate rent deferrals or waivers, many landlords have instigated, or threatened to instigate, actions that will cripple businesses and lead to a further loss of jobs on a significant scale. We have had reports of excessive interest payments applied to rent deferrals, as well as winding-up orders and bailiff action being threatened – at a minimum imposing extra cost to business and at worst threatening their ongoing viability. We have also been alerted to instances where funds have been withdrawn from deposits with top-ups demanded in order to avoid lease terms being broken.'
UK Hospitality has also urged the government to ask landlords to use time to renegotiate terms with tenants.
'Landlords are effectively signing a death sentence for many businesses that are just about keeping afloat,' continued Nicholls. 'We need legal protection to buy time for under-pressure businesses. Otherwise, they will fold, and even more jobs lost.'